3/23/23: The Trifecta Of Terrible

Today is a palindrome! I am a fan of these kinds of fun things with numbers and words. I know I have mentioned this before, but if you are not already playing Octowordle, I suggest you do it now. It does not have to be a wormhole; you can just play one game per day while concurrently keeping Alzheimer's at bay (hopefully). 

But that is not was I was going to talk about. Everyone has a pandemic story, and for many people the "three year anniversary" of their story just passed. I do not disagree that the 13th or the 16th of March were monumental days for most of us, myself included, but for me another day I will never forget was March 23rd. For those of you who don't know, I work in the finance industry. As you may remember, this was a difficult time in the stock markets. 

Here's a quick recap. The stock markets were doing well and were basically going up and up and up.  Then the decline started at the end of February, when the stories of COVID cases around the world started to increase and hit the news more and more. In the next four weeks, as news stories kept surfacing and cases kept rising, the stock market was halted four times. This happens when the index drops more than 7%, usually from it's previous day's close, and it causes the entire market to pause all trading for 15 minutes. I have only seen this happen a couple of times and it generally signifies something very bad; this can also happen with single name stocks, but that is not quite as worrying as the entire market shutting down. 

On March 9th, Italy went into lockdown, the markets took a dive and were subsequently halted, oil prices plunged, and Dr. Fauchi told cruisegoers that maybe they should rethink their vacations. On the afternoon of March 11th, I flew to New York City for work meetings and my friend's wedding, which was scheduled for Pi day (March 14th). My flight was nearly empty. By the time I left for the airport, the S&P 500 had dropped over 9%, WHO had declared COVID-19 a pandemic and Trump had suspended flights from Europe. 

Flight San Francisco to New York on March 11th

The next day in the office in Manhattan was not a pretty one; the markets were halted again and everyone was scrambling to figure out where this was going to go. I will not lie though, that evening I went for a work dinner, with hugs and no masks and shared appetizers. We just did not know what was coming. 

That evening, my friend texted to say that she was worried for me because they were shutting down restaurants in Brooklyn and that she and her fiancée were thinking of canceling their wedding. I was still skeptical and thought maybe she was overthinking things (she IS a worrier!), but I asked her to keep me posted. The next day, Friday the 13th, Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency (and the markets actually went up) and my firm stated that only essential business travel will be allowed. My worried friend told me they were canceling their wedding and I should get on the first flight out of there. 

I did what she said and left the next day (luckily my getting home WAS essential to my company!) I was in the office on Monday early as I usually am, when we got the word that people should all stay home and that the office would be closed, effective immediately. Since I was already there, I said I would stay and they let me. I am glad they did. I was not too worried about my health as I was alone in my own solo office so I did not feel unsafe, but also this day turned out to be even worse than the others; all three main indices dropped over 12% and were halted again that day and it would have been really hard to do my job not only from home but on a new system that was not even available to us before this day and so we had not practiced using! 

The week of March 16th was not awesome, and was full of stress and anxiety and yet another market halt, but the bottom of the markets came on....you guessed it, March 23rd! Of course we did not know it was the bottom; it was just another bad day in a string of bad days. But I will never forget this day; I will never forget this entire experience, but especially this day. In my time working in finance, or maybe in all of my career, this was the worst period I have ever experienced, both financially and emotionally. It was unpleasant and emotionally draining. Added to a world that was in the midst of a pandemic and going through this all while in lockdown, it was a trifecta of terrible. 

Screenshot taken on March 18th 2020

Photo sent to my parents at the end of the week of March 16th - yes, that's a pint glass.

I know that many people have kids and had to deal with that, or had to work and couldn't afford to stay home, AND had kids. I know that many people have loved ones who died. There are so many stories about coping and hardship and loss, and my story about people losing their money is not the worst of it. This entire period and beyond were horrible, as my grandma would say, and I am definitely not minimizing anybody else's horrible. This is just one story of many. 

What is your pandemic story? What part of the COVID-19 experience will you definitely never forget? What day or event sticks in your mind the most? 

Disclaimer: The information above is solely an opinion based my own personal experience. You do you. I am not a tax and/or financial advisor; nothing in this post should be taken as investment advice. I have no fiduciary responsibility to anyone reading this post. Please consult a financial advisor for investment advice.  Sources include ReutersThe Week and CNBCFor my other posts regarding money, go here


A Day In The Life: Morning Commute

Sometimes it feels like groundhog day around here. Get up, brush teeth, coffee, commute, work, go home, run, eat, read, sleep...and repeat. However, I am not really very excited to start my taxes so...I guess I will continue my routine. To me, this seems like the mundane, but it is fun to sometimes hear how other people do tasks that are just part of everyday life. For instance, Stephany and Engie recently talked about doing laundry, of all things. But it sparked a discussion about how many times we wash our sheets (about once a month), whether or not we separate whites from colors (no) and how much we love (or hate) folding and putting stuff away. 

One of the mundane things I do every day is commute to work. I never really did the work from home thing, even during the pandemic, although my commute was different then due to the lack of available public transportation and of course the lack of wanting to be in public (or being allowed to be). I am lucky to have a car and I had to use it during the pandemic

However, now we are back to "normal" again and I am back to my old shenanigans. Here is what that looks like. First, I have to get to the BART (train) station. I do this in two different ways, depending on what I have going on after work that day. If I drive, it takes about eight minutes, and I park on the streets in West Oakland and take the BART from there. For those of you who don't know this, West Oakland is the last stop in the East Bay before the BART goes under the bay and into the city. Because of this, this station is the best because on the way home, you can take any train going east and you will have to go through this station no matter what. Also, from here it is only about eight minutes into the city once the train comes. 

West Oakland BART

If I ride my bike, I go to a different station, which is closer to my house. This is about a seven minute ride and is mostly downhill. I lock up my bike and take the train into the city, which is about 17 minutes from this station. 

Either way, I usually listen to an audiobook while driving or riding and then read my book while on the train. I have been struggling lately to pick up books in print, so this is my way of trying to keep the habit of reading daily, not just listening to books, which I find myself doing more and more often. I get off in the city either at Embarcadero or Montgomery station. 

Financial District (FiDi)

As an aside, I have been trying to make sure to get 10,000 steps a day. Although this is an arbitrary number made up by someone, it is good for me to have a target; otherwise, it is easy to cut corners or just go home and sit on the couch. I say this because the Embarcadero station is about 0.10 mile further to my office than the Montgomery station, so I try to get off at this one to get those few extra steps. Every step counts right? The other thing I do is take the stairs instead of the escalator and luckily the trains are either up on rails  or underground so I get to take plenty of stairs. By the time I get to work, I usually have about 2,000 steps. 

My walk to work goes through the financial district in San Francisco. At the time of the morning that I go in there are not too many other people on the streets. It generally consists mostly of construction workers sitting in their cars (I assume they go early so they can get parking) a handful of homeless people, usually on the same corner by the 7-11, and one or two finance people (I am guessing from the way they are dressed). 

I actually really like this portion of the commute; the city is quiet but still beautiful. I walk amidst tall buildings and I can jaywalk all I want because there is not much traffic. I sometimes walk past the Equinox, a gym that costs about $200 per month, but is housed in a beautiful building that looks like it belongs in Greece or something. 

Equinox gym

I get to my building, where I say good morning to the security guard as I swipe my pass. I then go up to my floor, where we have a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz (not from our office, only from the conference room). From our side of the building you can also see Union Square and the Salesforce Tower. I get a cup of tea from the kitchen and I get to work! All together, this commute normally takes about a half an hour, but is a bit longer in the afternoon when there is more traffic. 

View of Transamerica Tower (was the tallest until 2018)

View of Salesforce Tower (tallest in San Francisco since 2018)

Are you bored yet!? What is your morning commute like? Tell me about something "mundane" that you do regularly. 


Tales From the Trails: Hidden Neighborhood Gems

NGS wrote a recent post about her walks around her neighborhood and I was mentioning to her how I really have gotten to know some fun places near me due to walking and running. I have lived in Oakland for about 11 years now and have lived and worked in San Francisco on and off for about 25 years, and through those years I have found so many fun little alleyways and stairways and incredible views. 

In Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, there are a lot of little stairways or walkways where it is sometimes unclear whether or not they are on someone's property or not, but if you are brave enough to take them, you can find some wonderful shortcuts and some really fun things. You can probably find a map of where they are and follow that if you want to, but I kind of like just stumbling upon them; it's an adventure! Here are a couple of my favorites from each city. 


Buena Vista Ave / Broadway Terrace - This may be cheating a little, as there are maybe ten different sets of stairs in this little neighborhood. It is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book and each time I go that way, I find something new! Also this neighborhood is up high and you can sometimes get some great views of the city and beyond! Google map

Yellow denotes stairs/paths.

Van Sicklen to Elbert St. via Trestle Glen - This neighborhood is nice and this path is hard to find, so I kind of felt like I was trespassing at first! However, it does get you through to higher ground and is a fun little clandestine route through someone's "backyard." Google map


Rose Walk - This path is about nine miles from my house and I found it on a run when I was trying to get approximately 20 miles total. I was looking for a turnaround spot and did not want to keep going down La Loma, which was the street I was on. It's a cute little path that you may even miss if you are coming from La Loma, but once you get on it, you go down the hill to Euclid where you can then turn right and check out the Rose Garden before turning around to go home. Google map

Indian Rock Path - This was another one where I just wanted to find a turnaround on a long run and I stumbled on this path. Not only is the path fun and tiny and green, but at the top of the path is Indian Rock, which I of course climbed up to see what kind of view was at the top. I was not disappointed, as you can see all the way to the city and the Marin Headlands. Google map

San Francisco

There are entire websites and books dedicated to the stairways in San Francisco, so I am not going to try to outshine them! However, here are two I frequent often. 

Greenwich Steps - If you walk along the Embarcadero going northbound, when you look up and see Coit Tower directly above you, turn left and you will be taken to a fabulous set of stairs that leads up to Coit Tower. Not only is the destination a good one, with a view and everything, but the stairs themselves lead through a neighborhood garden path and make you wonder how the people living here get their groceries home! Google map

Chestnut Street Stairs - These are not really "hidden" but they do provide a good bump in your heart rate and a rewarding view of Fisherman's wharf and Alcatraz when you get to the top. Also this has nothing to do with stairs, but if you are just looking for a run to do, going down Chestnut is fun and there is a public bathroom at the library that I have utilized often. I like to run down along the Embarcadero/Marina and then back on Chestnut for some variety. Google map

Here are a few extra photos of cool things that were not included in the list above: 

Brigeview Path

This Mormon Temple lets you cut through their property.

This sign changes from time to time.

SF alley to Transamerica tower.

Where have your walks taken you? Do you have any fun nooks, crannies or oddities in your neighborhood? 


A Walk Down Memory Lane

November 2021 was a rough month. I had a falling out with a friend; we don't need to talk about that too much. Also, my grandmother passed away. She had a good life and was 89 years old, but it was a bit sudden. My aunt contacted us to say that my grandma had gone to the hospital with a UTI and shortly after that her organs started to shut down and my aunt was about to put my grandma into hospice. My brother and I got the first redeye we could find and flew to Boston to be there with my aunt and grandma. It is a good thing we did, as she was gone less than 72 hours later. 

She saved a box of journals (I suspect she also threw a lot of them away) and we have been passing them around the family and recently it was my turn to have the box. I had a great time reading them and getting an insight into her life that I had not had before. My grandma and I were not so close that we spoke all the time or saw each other very often (she lived in MA) but she was on Facebook and email and we exchanged messages and notes from time to time. She was an avid reader and we often bonded over what book we were reading. I would probably see her every few years at the very least and we had a great time swimming in her local pond, reading and eating ice cream. 

However, her journals were from the 80s, when she was in her early 50s, my parents were in their late 20s and I was but a girl. At this time in her life she was a manager at a halfway house and her journals reflect the strife that she experienced on a daily basis. She also spent a lot of time in her garden, reading and spending time with friends, often in Maine, which was a special place to her. It is interesting reading about her life not as my grandma, which is what she was to me, but as a woman, a person who did things, a person with stresses etc. 

I especially enjoyed a series of entries that she wrote in 1988 when I went to visit her all by myself that summer. I got to ride on a plane alone and got the wings and everything (PS do parents still do this?) She wrote a lot about the weather, but also about what we did when I was there. 

"Finally, clearing skies so we had our picnic lunch and great swims at the pond, then gardening and a fun evening with games at Lucy's. Kyria spent the night - a bit of a respite for me." (I love the last part.) I have a confession; I have also been known to keep a journal and I have an entry from this same day! "We ate blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Then I read until 9:30 and watched TV until 10:25 (I am pretty sure my grandma only let me watch one hour a day). Then I came into my room and wrote in my diary (I am very factual). I'm going to write some more when I do more things. We went to Aunt Lucy's and had dinner. I stayed the night there and stayed up until eleven. It rained that night but not in the day."  

My 1988 Journal

Here is another from grandma: "Woke to light rain; after lunch we saw Willow at the cinema - great fun! and the cows and calves at Peaceful Meadows (this was a dairy where there was ice cream - one of our favorite spots), ice cream, puzzles, books and Sorry (the board game)." Here is mine on the same day: "Today it was raining so we went to a movie called Willow. It was good." (factual)

Here are a few others from other times that I found fun: "Another wonderful day, painted lawn furniture and cleared up yard. Halcyon (where her brother lived) for herbing and talking and a great steak dinner. Home to Mondale-Reagan debate." Reagan! "Gorgeous day out but 18 degrees. Boys and I all have a touch of the tummy flu - up at 4:30 am! Baked cookies, knit, sewed, played. Nice quiet supper, home at 9 pm. Fine weekend." (funny even though she had the flu, it was a fine weekend). 

As you can see, I have had a very fun time taking a walk down memory lane and even though she probably got rid of some of the more personal or emotional sections or books, I have enjoyed reading more about her day to day life, even though a lot of it, like most of us, is pretty repetitive! 

As I mentioned, I have always kept a journal of sorts. Many times it is just factual as seen above, and usually is a record of my travels more than a daily life kind of thing, but sometimes I record thoughts or feelings. I also (obviously!) have this space, where many of my memories are held. However, this space is full of things that I don't mind being public but I am not really sure how I would feel about someone reading my journals that I am not putting out on the internet. Most likely, many of them would be similar to my grandmother's entries -- the weather, a quick recap of my day, nothing very personal -- but it does make me wonder what may be in them that I would not really want to share. However, when I am gone, does it even matter? My Mom also keeps a journal, which I would want to read when she is gone, but I have a feeling she will not want that (hi Mom!) as it is personal! Hopefully she will leave us a few. 

I will end with a passage from an entry she wrote from Acadia, Maine that I especially enjoyed: "As we eventually settle ourselves and try to organize the boxes, parcels and bags for the trip home tomorrow, we are lifted by a PBS Bernstein concert of Brahms "Violin Concerto!" Could it be played for us in a more entrancing place? The evening is calm, cool and soft. I am replete." 

Do you keep a journal? Would you prefer to get rid of it before anyone else read it? What items do you cherish from your loved ones who are gone? 


Looking Back: Books

I am not going to lie; lately I have been unmotivated to read real books. It may be that the one I am reading is not really gripping me and so I keep finding better things to do than read it. However, I am still going strong with the audiobook game, and in the first two months of the year have read some good ones! Here are a few of my favorites so far. 

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt: What can I say; this is a cute book. I did not hear all of the hype. I just picked it because it had a bright cover and came up on my list on Libby when I was searching for books. It is about the relationship between an old lady and an octopus and a younger, kind of troubled boy. I enjoyed the characters, the story was engaging but not too fluffy, and I was entertained throughout. 

Dinners With Ruth by Nina Totenberg: I do like RBG and enjoy learning more about her as well as hearing each different point of view from the different authors I have read. Nina was a reporter who became friends with Ruth despite their age difference. This book details their friendship as well as some of their accomplishments, especially geared toward equality for women. 

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama: In this novel, Obama talks about her relationships in life, but especially the ones with her mother and her kids. She has some words of wisdom like "start kind" which could be kind of corny coming from the wrong person but from her it makes sense. 

The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman: Once again, the story of the Thursday Murder Club participants did not disappoint. This is Osman's third in the series and you can't help but love the octogenarian citizen detectives. They are annoying at times but they get the job done! I was also happy that Bogdan is still around, as he was one of my (surprising) favorites in the first book. I listened to it on audio and I also enjoyed the interview with the author that was at the end. 

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult: This is a controversial book about LGBTQ, murder, and the controversies surrounding both. I don't want to spoil anything, but I can say that I always enjoy how much work Picoult puts into the research around the topics that she writes about. Most of them are controversial and she really digs in and gives readers insights that we may not have known about. I always learn something by reading her books and this one was no different. 

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McCallister: This book may not usually be my forte, as it involves time travel which is not the most realistic, but I actually enjoyed it. A woman sees her son commit a murder and then she wakes up the next day and it has not happened yet. As the book goes on she learns more and more about the situation and in the end she has to decide what she wants to do about it. I was entertained and did not really see the ending coming, which always makes it more fun. 

Have you read any of the above books? If so, what did you think? If not, what has been your favorite book so far this year? 


What is a Regular Weekend Anyway?

Thank you to all who commented on my last post. I am taking all of your advice into consideration! However, I am still doing some digging, so if you have not weighed in yet, you can still go here and let me know your thoughts. 

Last weekend was a long one and it gave me the perfect opportunity to get some stuff done and still have fun too! I was thinking about what a regular weekend around here looks like and of course it depends on the weekend, but a regular weekend at home generally looks like this: prepping meals for the next week, laundry, house cleaning, working in the yard, a run (or two), reading, working on the purging project, and meeting up with friends for a hike/run/coffee. However, weekends lately have been a little different! 

Remember my post about being uncomfortable? Since I wrote that post, I have been even more uncomfortable! That ride was about 40 miles; after that was a success, on New Years weekend, I decided to ride to my brother's house in Santa Rosa, which is about 70 miles away from where I live. Before I started, since it was supposed to be a little wet, I got new tires and put them on Bertha. A quick backstory: Bertha is old, maybe even older than me, but I am not really sure, as I have been told that it is rude to ask a lady her age. She is a ten speed, of which maybe only three of the speeds work and her brakes have not been changed the whole time I have had her, which has been about ten years. So she is not really in tip top shape, but she gets the job done. 

The day that I planned on starting, Mother Nature was not having it; you may recall that this was the weekend where we were hit with the bomb cyclone? So I had to wait a day and shorten the ride, but in the end, I started off bright and early on Saturday morning from Richmond point and went across the Richmond bridge for the 2nd time in less than a month. Surprisingly the weather was good, the winds were in my favor and I got through San Rafael with no issues. 

I don't really know (but am learning!) what normal cyclists use for navigation, but I used Google maps and kept my headphone in while riding so that I could hear the directions as I went. Sometimes they are confusing, like when she says, "turn right, then left" but really she means, "stay on the same path" so I did go the wrong way a couple of times since I was not actually looking at the map, but generally it was fairly easy to follow. My route took me through San Rafael, Novato and Petaluma before putting me on Stony Point road, which was 14 miles long and actually went straight to Santa Rosa and almost right to my brother's house. 

Once I arrived there, we took a shake out walk and went for New Years Day pho before relaxing in the hot tub and then in front of a movie with ice cream. Broski and Mrs. Broski always treat me right. 

The next day, I got up early and left as it was supposed to start raining again at 11 am and I wanted none of that. I had gear and everything but one of my fears is slipping on the wet street and falling in the middle of traffic, or even just on the ground on a hard bike path or street. Not to say I will never ride in the rain but for now I would like to avoid it when I can. It was great riding back along Stony Point with the sun rising and no cars on the road. 

As I said above, my route generally followed frontage or access roads near highway 101, but often took me into the downtown areas of the towns I went through and I will not lie, although I have been to and driven through these towns before, I had never been to some of their downtowns and they are very cute. For example, Petaluma has a nice old town downtown with cute shops and everything! I will have to come back to explore more as I was trying to outrun the rain, but who knew! Petaluma also had a bathroom that was open, which I was very grateful for, as I had made a pitstop in the bushes the day before. 

I got back to Richmond only slightly damp and it actually started raining shortly after that. Score. What are my takeaways? I learned that I am not a fan of padded bike shorts. So, when I say uncomfortable, I really do mean physically this time. I nicknamed them my "diaper" and have a few TMI things to tell you about this. First of all, did you know that you are supposed to wear them without underwear? I can't tell you how glad I am to get to my destination and take off the shorts and put on underwear. It's my new favorite thing. I learned that I need new brakes, which I have since bought and not yet installed. 

One of the most useful things I have learned on this adventure but also in life, is that you don't need special or fancy equipment to start a new adventure. You just need to try it with what you have! I put a change of clothes and some tools in a dry bag, strapped it to the back of the bike with a bungee and used that as my "paniers," I clearly do not have a state of the art bike, I wear old running shoes (another use rather than gardening!) and I wear whatever is comfortable. I get passed by sleek riders, dressed in fancy matching spandex with $16,000 bikes made of air, as I huff and puff on my 57 pound bike up a hill with my lowest of three gears. But you know what, I arrive home tired and happy and proud of myself for not letting any of that stop me. Not to get on a tangent here, but the same goes for everything! Don't let the lack of gear or the lack of experience or the fear of looking silly hold you back. 

Total miles: 105 (54 + 51)
Time taken:  10 hours (5.5 + 4.5)
Bridges crossed: 1, but I crossed it twice (Richmond)
Modes of transport: 2 (car to Richmond, bike)
Map of my trip: https://caltopo.com/m/E803B 

What does your regular weekend look like? What does your out of the box/adventure weekend look like? 


Feed Me!

Hello readers; I need your help. You may have noticed that I was having trouble with my blog feed, and it was driving me nutso. I was posting posts but they were not showing up on Feedly for three days. The last one I posted (Minneapolis) actually did not show up in my feed at all, and that is when I knew that I really had a problem. I tried all kinds of things and posted a bunch of test posts (sorry if you got these) but I couldn't seem to figure it out. 

I removed all of my widgets, messed with my HTML code a lot, searched for errors and tried to fix them, removed code, added code, etc. If you know me at all you know that I do not like to leave things undone, so I spent several days patiently (??) trying to fix this issue. Then I kind of gave up, and decided to transition to WordPress. 

I spent several days staring at this

I downloaded everything in Blogger, uploaded it to WordPress and was still in the process of fiddling with the settings when my Minneapolis post showed up in my feed finally (about a week after my original post date). Clearly something I had messed with  had worked! I then posted a test, which worked, and then I scheduled the gadgets post, which worked. 

Now my conundrum is, should I stay or should I go now? From the few hours I spent working on the WP blog, it seems like there are definitely some features I like more (the commenting seems better for example) but some things that kind of confuse me (the set up of the template - I cannot seem to get my header font smaller without also decreasing my post header font and vice versa, also my side menu options seem more limited, but maybe I just need to fiddle some more). 

I need your help! 

WordPress people: What do you like/dislike about WordPress? What is the commenting like? If the person commenting is not on WP, does it make it difficult? Do you get an email if someone comments back (that is something I wish I had now. When I comment on a WP blog, I have to go back and check to see if they replied sometimes), can you comment back via email (you can do this on Blogger if the person is on Blogger too, but I can only do this with some WP people). 

Blogger people turned WordPress: Why did you convert? What things were hard during the conversion? (I noticed all of my comments came over but they are all "anonymous" now) What things do you like better or dislike more? 

Blogger people: Why do you stay with Blogger? Have you ever considered converting?

Additional questions for all: What feed reader do you use? How do WP vs Blogger posts show up on your reader? Do you have a preference for the aesthetics of one over the other? What day did you get this post? (FYI, I am posting it on February 18th) Alternatively, if you subscribe by email, when did you get this post? Also, if you have had this problem, how did you fix it? 

If you are shy, you can email me at travelspot06 at gmail rather than commenting. 

If you don't feel like answering any of the above questions, at least tell me...what are you up to this weekend? 

Thank you for your help! 


What I Love: Gadgets & More

You know how sometimes you buy something and it slowly migrates from the counter to the cupboard to a shelf in the garage? I know we all have these things. I have a huge canning pot / pressure cooker which was very cool when I was gardening more and was using it to pressure can multiple quarts of vegetables every year. Now it holds empty jars in the garage, because I am not using them as much anymore either. Or how about those wired earphones that got stuffed in a running drawer after someone gifted you wireless earbuds? Or remember when you went through that air fryer phase? 

On the flip side, sometimes I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the things I have. I just want to say that this is not a sponsored post. These are things I have paid for or was given and I have really appreciated and I feel like I have gotten my money's worth. However, if any of these companies do want to sponsor me, I am game! 

Instant Pot: I must confess, my instant pot is a Pressure Pro, but I love it just the same. I would guess that I use it on an average of at least once a week, and probably more, as some days I even use it more than once! I know it may seem like a gimmick, but it does so many things. I have always been a soup and stew lover, but also one of my favorite things to do is to get home from a run, toss a frozen pork chop and a potato in there with some salt and pepper and by the time I get out of my shower, I have lunch!! You can't beat that for efficiency! My second favorite, and this one I poopooed for a long time before finally trying it, is hard boiled eggs. They just slip right out of the shell when they are done. They have come up in price a little bit, but if you put a price alert on them, you could maybe get one for around $60.00. I also noticed that the new ones have all kind of fun things -- dehydrator, air fryer etc. It may be worth spending the $100.00 plus at some point! 

My baby

Grandma's blankets: I have quilts made by both of my grandmas and I use them every day! I love snuggling "on top" of my bed in a quilt and reading a good book. These are obviously priceless. 

Lap desk: I often will use my laptop in bed or on the couch and I bought a lap desk like this one about five years ago when I was studying approximately 20 hours a week for the CFA. I spent so much time on the computer at home that this was a life saver! However, it is also very handy now and sometimes when I am working from home I set it on the counter and use it like a standing desk. 

Ninja: It took me a LOOOOOOONG time to bite the bullet and pony up the dough for a silly blender. However, this blender is a rock star and I use it several times a week. Whether you are making smoothies or soups or salsas, this thing will get it done in no time. I bought the one with the side smoothie cup and the food processor and it was worth it. I probably use the smoothie cup the most out of all of the attachments. As a side note, I also got a Magic Bullet as a gift and I thought that one would make the other obsolete, but I actually like to blend up my coffee (or I used to do my scrambled eggs, but I have not been buying eggs lately) every day and I use the bullet for that, so I am getting a lot of use out of both gadgets. 

Kindle Paperwhite: I don't think I really need to say much about this! Actually, I would have been team paper books all the way but my brother got me a Kindle about 12 years ago for my birthday and after realizing I could put multiple library books on it quite easily, I have been a convert. My first gen died only about a year ago and I am loving the Paperwhite so far! Aside from gifts or using gift cards I have been given, I have not spent money on books for a few years now! 

Nothing better than a book and a beer...

The Red Rocket: This is my car. For a long time I did not have a car, and living in the Bay Area that was working out just fine. I took the bus to work, I can run straight from my house into the trails and I would rent a car if going away for the weekend. However, I started going away more for weekends and it was getting more expensive to rent a car, so I decided to buy a used car with good gas mileage to have in case I needed it. The rocket has served me well and during the pandemic, I would have been stuck at home (I never really went to working from home, even during the lockdown, since technically, we are "essential") without it. To learn more about the rocket and what the parking is like around here, go here

Buffs: This is kind of random, but it is an item that is very versatile and doesn't even cost much. In fact, if you run races, you may even get one for free. Some people call it a neck gaiter. Whatever you call it, it can be used as a hat, a headscarf, an ear warmer, a neck warmer, a wristband, and during the pandemic, a mask. In fact, my mom even put one around her and called it a skirt and another friend used it as a bandeau. I also use mine in a pinch as a pot holder, snot rag, pee rag and dishcloth (not the same one!) when camping. 

What item do you use the most in your household? What item have you thought you would use is now gathering dust in the garage? 


Weekend Travel: Minneapolis

You may wonder why I decided to go to Minneapolis in the dead of winter. Great question! The week before I arrived the highs were not getting over the single digits and the lows...well, we won't talk about the lows! Also that does not even count the wind chill. I went to see Lisa and her family, and thought it was funny when she told me that it was going to be warm for the weekend that I was there. By warm, she meant lows of about 2 and highs in the low 30s on one of the days! Woohoo! Break out the Bermuda shorts! 

I met Lisa via blogging about 13 (?) years ago, and when I was working in Missouri in 2011, I flew up to MSP to meet with her for a 10 mile race and our friendship was set. At the time she lived downtown and we had a great time exploring the city, and eating ice cream and Kowalski's sausages. She has always been a good host, and so I went to visit her again when she was living in Charlotte and we had a great time eating fish tacos and having a weekend away in Ashville (if you have not been here, I recommend it). 

Over the years she has come to visit me several times and we always have fun hiking and running and eating and catching up. Of course, life has progressed and now she is married with two kiddos and the visits are a little different, but it is still great to catch up and to be part of life's journey! This visit was just as fun as the others! 

I arrived on Friday to two degree weather and got picked up by Lisa and her little buddy Pablo, who was very excited to see me, even though I have not seen him since he was a baby (he is now almost five)! It was a warm (!) welcome! We caught up over pizza and I even was coerced into having a beer with her husband before heading to bed.

On Saturday, we spent a great time at the zoo. Luckily a lot of the exhibits are indoors, and the two boys sped through the maze of jungle animals before we headed to the main event: the dolphins! The zoo has borrowed dolphins from the Chicago zoo and they put on a really nice show with four of them, even going so far as to have a trainer get in the water with them and do tricks. I was impressed and the boys both sat still the whole time, which was a good sign that they liked it too! Later that day, after it warmed up a bit (~18°) we went for a run around Lake Harriet and then had a nice dinner and I spent some time reading with the boys. 

On Sunday, we did a 10k snowshoe race, which was something I've never done before. It was very fun but our snowshoes were not meant for running! Some people had really cool rubber ones that are especially made for running, but ours were a little cumbersome and both of us were sore in weird places the next day. We stopped off on the way home for some gluten free pastries and I got biscuits and gravy that were delicious! My new mission in life is to recreate this, as it's my favorite breakfast item and I've been avoiding it due to digestive issues. We had a nice dinner and did a puzzle with the Grammys in the background after watching 60 minutes and having the nightly apple with the boys. 

Monday was Lisa's birthday! I worked for a little while and then we celebrated by taking a little run and getting her a free Starbucks coffee before I left her to go for a walk so she could have some much needed alone time. After that, we went for a multicultural lunch of dosa, kimchi salad and grain bowl before she dropped me off at the airport. 

I know that one thing that the pandemic has done for me is to give me a better appreciation for time spent with friends, especially those who are farther away. It's not a given that we will see them often or at all, and as we get back to some sort of normal, I really enjoy time with people who I haven't seen in years! Next time, I'm hosting!! 

Have you ever done a non-running race and if so, what was it and how did it go? What friend or family have you finally seen lately that you maybe did not see over the last few years? 


My FODMAP Journey

I have always been a good eater. A member of the clean plate club. A proponent of eating anything and  everything and lots of it. I have never been a picky eater. However, I have always had an issue with slight bloating. It never was horrible, but if I ate a big bowl of cauliflower for lunch, a bowl of chili for dinner and two apples with peanut butter for dessert, I would probably have a slight stomach bulge, or what we would call a burrito baby, and would definitely have tight pants. Usually it was gone the next morning and I could go about my day. 

However, a couple of years ago, I noticed that it was becoming more frequent and more severe and it seemingly didn't really matter what I ate, if I ate or if I didn't eat, how much I ate etc. I was often so bloated that I looked I was five months pregnant (and felt that way too!) and was having severe pains in my upper stomach at times. I went to see a gastroenterologist and she gave me a blood test which came back all clear and then put me on a low FODMAP diet. What the heck is a FODMAP, you ask? FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. So now that we are clear... But wait, what? We are not clear? What is all that gibberish, you ask? 

Disclaimer: I am no doctor, nor chemist, nor biologist. But I took organic chemistry once a long time ago, so I will attempt to break it down. These are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly, and eating them can cause digestive issues (often due to them fermenting while in the intestine). All of the fancy names have to do with how many units make up the chain. For the purposes of matching the Monash list, let's refer to them as Oligos (which include fructans, not to be confused with fructose), Lactose (Di), Fructose (Mono) and...Polyols (which includes mannitol and sorbitol). Still a bit lost? 

You will be familiar with many of the main culprits: beans, wheat, cauliflower, lactose and garlic, along with many other fruits and vegetables. Some of the items are red, as in do not eat at all, and that is manageable. However, some are yellow, as in you can have 10 grams of it and be okay. However, you may not be able to have 10 grams of one yellow and 10 grams of another without having issues. Plus, who eats only 43 grams of corn? P.S. That is about 2 tablespoons. You can see the full detailed list here (as of 2022). 

From Ecosh

The first step of the diet is the elimination phase. For me, this was an eight week period where I eliminated all of the red and most of the yellow items on the list. To be honest, I did feel better during this phase, but it is a pain in the butt. You can't have garlic or onions or beans or wheat or lactose. I definitely did not eat out except for maybe once (Japanese was really the only thing I could eat, except soy was also not allowed - sashimi anyone?) and was "that guy" at any dinner with friends ("I'll just have a plain lettuce leaf with a whipped air dressing and a glass of water, thanks"). It did keep me from snacking (I ate A LOT of carrot sticks) because my main go to is fruit, which was probably the hardest part of this phase. I love fruit, especially apples, which are on the red list. 

The second part is the reintroduction phase. Do not think that this is all an all-you-can-eat fun party, because its not. This is another eight to ten week phase where you introduce one food from one category for three days straight, ramp up the quantity each day, see how it affects you and then go back to elimination for four days. Then on week two, you try a different category for three days, take four days off, try a new category for three days... you get the picture. The twist is that even if you think that the item does not bother you, you do not continue eating it. Basically except for the three days where you ate it, for the other seven weeks and four days, you are essentially still eliminating that category. You can read more on the Monash website

The reason you do it for so many weeks even though there are only four categories is that you may need to try several things in the same category. For example, garlic, onions, beans, bread and many common vegetables are in the oligosaccharide category. Its best to test out each one separately, as one of them may be the trigger, but you won't necessarily have an issue with all of them. And who wants to give up garlic if they don't have to!?

You also want to make sure you are trying things that are only in one category. For example, apples have both fructose and polyols, so you would not want to see if fructose is your issue by having an apple because if you did have an issue you would not know if it was the fructose or the polyol. You would be better off to have orange juice, a fig, or a mango to see if fructose was the issue (or rum apparently, although I would stick to something you consume often - you do you). For polyols you might want to try a yellow peach, cauliflower or a mushroom. This NHS video is also very helpful in explaining the reintroduction method. 

My nine weeks worth of tests were

Oligos (broken into five): black beans, garlic, onions, bread, artichoke

Lactose (Di): yogurt

Fructose (Mono): mango

Polyols (broken into two): avocado (sorbitol) and cauliflower (mannitol)

Of course all of this is done alongside journaling and really trying to be at one with your intestines, which can be fun but tedious at the same time, and trying to live life. Was that stomach rumble hunger, or should I have not eaten more than 27 grams of cauliflower today? Do I have a tummy ache from the bread, or was it the two bowls of oatmeal I ate this morning with butter and maple syrup? 

To wrap this up for now, I know you are wondering what the end result was. I would like to say that one thing really bugged me, I stopped eating it and I am happy and svelte and bloat free. However, that is not the case. I have learned that there are a few things, or high quantities of other things, that do seem to be worse, but there are still times when I do not eat those items and I have issues, so it is still a work in progress. Usually I find out by making a mistake (i.e. do not eat two large bowls of popcorn in one sitting, especially after eating three bean soup) but at least I am on the right path. I am not on full reduction, but something more like a maintenance phase for now. 

Also, like I said, I am not a health professional and I usually am not a proponent of supplements either but I started taking two probiotics that were recommended by a friend of my brothers and they seem to help a little: the first you take right before you eat, and the second you take at the end of the day after you are done eating. They are kind of expensive, and it took about a week before I noticed any effect, but they do seem to help reduce the tight pant syndrome! Sometimes that feeling of tight pants is not just physically demoralizing, but mental too and so in this case, I will try anything! 

Feel free to reach out personally with questions; I am happy to get into (TMI) more detail if needed! 

Have you ever had gastro issues? If so, what did you do to get rid of them? If not, what other issues have you had and how did you overcome them? 


Everybody Meet Bob, Bob Meet Everybody

I mentioned that I got a new mountain bike. I have christened him Bob. As you know, the road bike is Bertha and it just seemed to go together. I have never had a mountain bike before. I have been mountain biking once in Bolivia, when I rode on the World's Most Dangerous Road, which is a downhill ride from about 4,000 meters (13,200 feet) to 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) and is a combination of paved road, dirt road and single track. 

This is Bob! 

In the last several years, I have done a lot more road biking. It has mostly been commuting but I have also added in a few longer rides and have really enjoyed myself. However, I am a woman of the woods at heart so I thought it was time to adventure out to the dirt. First I had to figure out what kind of bike I needed. Have you ever tried to buy a bike? There are hard tail, gravel bikes, bikes with no shocks and bikes with extra shocks. There are aluminum and carbon frames, there are different sizes and shapes and...man, there are so many different options and many of them are expensive! 

What I ultimately wanted was something I could take bikepacking; this is like backpacking but on a bike. You load up the bike and ride off into the woods for a few days and camp along the way. If you know me at all, you know this is right up my alley! So I chose a hardtail bike and I put a price alert on it and when the alert got triggered, I bit the bullet and bought it. Then it arrived in a big box and I had to put it together myself. I know a little from having the road bike but most of this  is new to me. 

So, basically the point of all of this backstory is that I have been having fun. Like I said in this post, we so often get so used to doing things that we know how to do, but this has given me so many different learning experiences! Have they all been fun? No. I luckily put my pedals on the right sides, but did not crank them down so that they would stay on all the time. I already had to fix the shifter and I now am on a first name basis with the local bike shop. 

BUT! Bob and I went out for our first ride this week. The trails are still a tad wet, but oh my gosh, it was SO FUN! I felt like a little kid again. I have to ride up a big hill to get from my house to the trailhead and then I had a few big hills on the trails and they were hard, but I did it! I had to go down rocky and rooted trails and I definitely tested out my brakes, but flying down the hill when you have a more smooth surface is such a thrill. 

I feel like a highschool girl with her first crush! He is so cute! I am in love. K + B forever! Like a highschool girl though, I am sure the sheen will wear off and reality will hit me, but for right now I am on cloud nine! 

Have you ever mountain biked? If so, I need tips! What is the hardest thing you have had to put together yourself (and how many screws did you have left over at the end)? 


Potty Talk

I know that I said I was not going to talk about toilets again, but I lied. Actually I am not going to talk about toilets; I am going to talk about the bidet. 

The bidet has been ridiculed by Americans for years; every time we go to Europe, we laugh about the "two toilets," "the low sink" or the "weird looking drinking fountain." I have to admit to seeing one for the first time a long time ago and knowing what it was used for but not really how it was used. It was in the bathroom of my boyfriend's mom, who was American, but had traveled a lot for work and had lived abroad for a long time. Apparently she liked it so much she had one installed in her house in California. 

I never used hers though. The first time I used a bidet was maybe five years later, when I went to South Korea for the first time. Their toilets not only squirt water, but they have heated water, air and a heated seat too. You could spend a very long time in the bathroom in South Korea. 

I think this one was in China.

Last year I bought a bidet. My bidet is not that fancy. It just attaches to your toilet on the side. It takes about 10 minutes to set up and is not obtrusive or anything. I call it the starter bidet. Here's the funny part; I liked mine so much I bought one for everyone for Christmas. There have been mixed reviews and comments so far. 

My dad and my mom both tried it without sitting on it and sprayed the bathroom wall, even though the instructions say not to turn it on if you are not sitting. When my mom first turned it on while sitting, we heard a loud yelp come from the bathroom. It does have pretty strong pressure! My brother went to my parents house and fell in love with the bidet right away. Little did he know he was getting one too! However, his girlfriend is less than thrilled. I think she has this idea that you can get dirty stuff in a clean place by using it? But let me clear up some of the mystery. 

When you turn the water on, the little sprayer wand pops out of its protected home to spray you. So you are not using dirty water to spray yourself. The water pressure (and temperature if set up that way) can be adjusted, as can the angle, so you can aim it where it is best for you. After you are done, you can dry off using TP or a towel that you then wash after a couple of uses. It saves a lot of TP, let me tell you! This is nothing new; people have been doing it for many years, but it is new to me and I have been very happy with my new toy. You know how sometimes someone gives you a gift and you think you are never going to use it and then you get a ton of use out of it? This is one of those things. 

Have you ever used a bidet? If so, what do you think!? If not, what's holding you back? If you don't want to talk about toilets, what item have you thought you were not going to get any use out of and then it became your favorite thing? 


Slovenian Mountain Trail: Logistics, Gear and Planning

Slovenia is a country that I wanted to go to for a long time. There were a few times where I tried to tack it onto the end of a trip to Austria or Italy or Slovakia, but I felt like it would not do it justice for it to only go there for a few days at the end of a different trip. So in September of 2022 I dedicated an entire two weeks to this little jewel of a country. I won’t go into it in too much detail, but the country has a lot to offer, including mountains, cities, beaches, wine and food! 

However, my main focus was to spend some time hiking the oldest long-distance trail in Europe, the Slovenian Mountain Trail (SMT), otherwise known as the SPP-1, the Slovenska Planinska Pot or the Transversala. It is a ~600 km (375 mile) trail from Maribor in the east to Ankaran on the west coast. It goes through several ranges of the Alps, including the Pohorje, the Julian Alps, the Karawanks, and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. It also goes right past (and to if you like) the highest point in Slovenia, Mount Triglav, which sits at 2,863 meters (9,395 feet). 

The Plan/Logistics: Getting to Slovenia is not hard, but there are no direct flights to Ljubljana, and even if you do have a layover, flying into Slovenia’s tiny capital is not cheap. I ended up deciding to fly to Vienna, where I took a three-hour Flixbus to Graz Austria and then two trains to Maribor to start my trip. You also have the option of taking a five-hour bus directly from Vienna to Maribor. My original plan was to get to Maribor early in the morning and start hiking right away, but due to some travel issues, I arrived there around 5:00 pm, so I stayed one night in Maribor instead. This gave me the chance to buy fuel, which I was planning on either buying in the morning or doing without for the first few days, so that was a silver lining of starting a day later. 

There is no camping allowed in Slovenia; this hike consists of hut-to-hut travel and there are a total of about 60 huts along the way. They suggest that the huts be booked in advance, but most of them do not have online booking and you must call to make a reservation. I suggest becoming a member of the Alpine Club, which costs about $30.00 and gets you 30% - 50% off of hut costs, which is a savings of about $9.00 - $13.00 per hut. Figuring out which hut to stay at each night was actually not as easy to plan as you may think. I could not find one single website in English where you can see how far it was between huts or how much time it would take to get from one to the other. There was a GPX Track on the main Slovenian Alpine Club webpage, and I ended up using that and Gaia to figure out how much mileage and elevation gain was between each hut. I then exported this data to Offline Maps where I could use it to determine my route each day. 

I also came up with a possible daily plan, but I wanted the flexibility of being able to go further if I was feeling good, or to stop if I was not feeling well or if it was raining. So even though I mapped out all of the huts and data for them, I did not make a single reservation in advance. I wanted to go approximately 20-25 miles per day, but was aware that some days may be a little easier than others, so this would need to be flexible. 

The Route: The plan was to go from Maribor to wherever I ended up on day twelve. I knew I wanted to make a stop in Bled for a couple of days, so would get off the trail and take a bus there and back, but other than that, I was not set on getting a certain distance, as I have learned from past trips that things don’t always go as planned. I would know more once I was on the trail, but did not want to pin myself down to one specific plan. I also knew that I wanted a couple of days at the end to visit either the coast or Ljubljana or both. Therefore, my rough plan was to end up somewhere in the Bohinj region where I could hike out and get a bus back to Ljubljana. 

I ended up doing the following. You can find the CalTopo route here.

Day 1: Saturday 09/03/22. From Maribor to Koča na Pesku. Time Elapsed: 10:47. Moving time: 08:14. Miles Hiked: 22.86. Elevation gained: 5,896 feet. Elevation lost: 2,331 feet. 

Day 2: Sunday 09/04/22. From Koča na Pesku to Slovenj Gradec. Time Elapsed: 09:19. Moving time: 06:32. Miles Hiked: 19.85. Elevation gained: 3,031 feet. Elevation lost: 6,166 feet. 

Day 3: Monday 09/05/22. From Slovenj Gradec to Dom na Smrekovku. Time Elapsed: 09:28. Moving time: 07:17. Miles Hiked: 21.25. Elevation gained: 6,070 feet. Elevation lost: 2,935 feet. 

Day 4: Tuesday 09/06/22. From Dom na Smrekovku to Luce. Time Elapsed: 07:11. Moving time: 05:02. Miles Hiked: 14.59. Elevation gained: 2,674 feet. Elevation lost: 5,355 feet. 

Day 5: Wednesday 09/07/22. From Robanov Kot to Sedlu. Time Elapsed: 08:53. Moving time: 04:01. Miles Hiked: 10.20. Elevation gained: 6,703 feet. Elevation lost: 2,604 feet. 

Day 6: Thursday 09/08/22. From Sedlu to Jesezsko. Time Elapsed: 06:34. Moving time: 03:25. Miles Hiked: 11.38. Elevation gained: 2,562 feet. Elevation lost: 5,231 feet. 

Day 7: Friday 09/09/22. Rest day in Bled.

Day 8: Saturday 09/10/22. From Bled to Aljažev Dom. Time Elapsed: 05:58. Moving time: 05:17. Miles Hiked: 17.89. Elevation gained: 2,379 feet. Elevation lost: 895 feet. 

Day 9: Sunday 09/11/22. From Aljažev Dom to Triglavski dom na Kredarici. Time Elapsed: 06:42. Moving time: 06:39. Miles Hiked: 08.12. Elevation gained: 6,345 feet. Elevation lost: 1,468 feet. 

Day 10: Monday 09/12/22. From Triglavski dom na Kredarici to Stara Fužina. Time Elapsed: 08:20. Moving time: 04:07. Miles Hiked: 13.82. Elevation gained: 1,493 feet. Elevation lost: 7,863 feet. 

Day 11: Tuesday 09/13/22. From Stara Fužina to Black Lake. Time Elapsed: 06:28. Moving time: 04:49. Miles Hiked: 14.05. Elevation gained: 3,081 feet. Elevation lost: 2,931 feet.

The Big Three: Since I would be staying in huts, where I would not need a tent, and was not allowed to camp, I left my tent behind. However, I did still carry my Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 degree sleeping bag (29 oz.) and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite regular size (12 oz.), since I thought that maybe if I got stuck between huts, as an emergency I may need to cowboy camp. I also used my trusty Hyperlite 2400 Southwest Backpack (28.6 oz.) and carried my Cocoon silk liner, since you are required to bring “linen” to the huts. My big "three" weighed about 4.9 pounds. 

Base Pack Weight: Since I did not have my tent, my base weight was only about 15 lbs. I still carried pretty much the same basic things that I always carry, even though I would be in civilization more than I normally am. 

Clothing: September is always iffy weatherwise, so I carried my normal fall gear, which consists of a puffy and rain jacket, rain pants, gloves and a beanie for warmth. However, I did not carry my winter gear, any heavy-duty weather gear or traction. This ended up being perfect, as it did rain quite a bit but was never below freezing. 

Food: Ah, this was a controversial topic. As I would be staying in huts, I could have eaten all my meals at their restaurants. However, I did not want to spend all my money on food, plus I like having the option to eat when I want and not have to wait until I get to the next hut. Therefore I carried enough food for all meals for 10 days and planned on supplementing with hut food for a few of my meals. I brought my normal lineup of bars, nuts and meat sticks for snacks, coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, and rice and beans and soups for dinner. I discovered my new favorite store-bought combo: Bear River potato soup with Knorr Mexican rice sides. Delicious! 

Water: I used my new BeFree 1 liter filter bottle and carried an extra Platypus 1 liter bottle with a 2-liter Platypus for extreme emergencies/backup. There were plenty of options to get water on the trail or at the huts, so this worked out perfectly. I never had to carry more than two liters at a time and most of the time I probably could have made do with only one.  

Total Pack Weight: Including two liters of water, ten days of food and one fuel cannister, my pack weighed a pretty heavy 37 lbs. My pack list for this trip can be found here

The Verdict: I did not use my sleeping bag and pad at all; I could have left them at home. I also did not eat all of my food; I ended up being in towns more than expected and had the opportunity to buy fresh groceries (fruit, cheese and bread etc.) and could have probably brought about half or two thirds of what I brought and would have still been fine. As I mentioned above, I could have brought no food at all and still made do, but I do think that a combo of hut food, store-bought food and food brought from home is the best option. 

I could have done more miles on several of the days, but I had a few things going against me; one, I was not sure how the terrain would be so was hesitant to commit to a high mileage day if it was going to be especially difficult. Two, some of the huts were spaced just the wrong distance apart, causing me to choose a too short day or a too long day. Most of the time, I chose option one but this meant that some days were only 10 miles. Lastly, some of the more popular huts were sold out on many of the days so I had to reserve them in advance and then commit to actually staying there even though I could have gone further. I am not really a fan of not being able to camp where and when you want as I often find that you have to either cut your day short or go further than you would like in order to make it work. 

The other thing that I did not take as seriously as I should have was how long the downhills would take me. Normally, if the trail goes downhill, I would assume I could do maybe three miles per hour instead of two, but some of the descents were very steep and/or they were on the side of a mountain and the climb down was treacherous. Therefore, I was a lot slower on the downhills than I expected. For example, one 13-mile day had 1,500 feet of ascent and almost 8,000 feet of descent, and it ended up taking about 8 hours! 

More Information: Flixbus long distance bus. Slovenian Alpine Club. Download the entire trail (with huts) GPX Track. Gaia mapping app. Rome2Rio travel planning and booking. Booking.com for well priced guest houses. 

Stay tuned for the Trip Report!

Have you been backpacking in a foreign country? Or just traveling in general? If so, what was your favorite part of your journey?