WINNAH!

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My Growing Secrets:

  1. 8 bikes, the tire lasts over a year, but is ridden enough to be tubeless
  2. scuff up the sidewalls in the McDs to allow constant permeation of dry air
  3. cheap homebrew, mixed by the quart, in place of $65 tires
  4. feed creature beyond the point of exponential growth, see #3 above

I finally changed the tire when I felt two distinct metastatic lumps. She was extracted having freshly consumed the better part of 2oz of new sealant.

and here she is, mounted on my wall!

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semy litrat

Pre-k seems to be working
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will bribe with restaurant, check out the word search
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Left Unsorted

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Someday I Suppose

Prez-kit!

Saturday I did the Prescott Monstercross.

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It was real, and it was spectacular. So much singletrack, temps never got past 60, up and down and only once did i ever get gassed from the length of a climb. Every time i challenge myself to a big day i want to challenge myself to more, the hit so addictive. I try to do at least 4 big days a year. Its not enough, but its enough to maintain. I’ve been searching for a vein for the last 6 days. Me, the bike, the forest being together, wringing out everything but the present. 8.5 hours 52 miles 8k vf later I was glad to be done, but i was not wrecked, just enough to throb a little.  Still stoked enuff to take G to the pool, swap stories with her, drink a beer, and inhale chinese buffet.

I would want to give up everything and play in the woods, but I wouldn’t want to change a thing about everything for my kids. Except maybe go north more. And make them read more, and do chores, and sleep in their own damn room. And yell at them less.

The more I sort it out the more it gets distorted.

Weekends like this clarify. cleanse. coagulate. congratulate.

La familia rode Willow Lake Trail 30 min after I passed early in my route. EPIC planning failure. They went to Heritage Zoo, while i followed the pink line on the gps.

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pour some sugar on me
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haaaaaaaaaappppyy!

a friend from swimteam told me about wetsuits for east coast swimming. $45 for 2 of em used…all those hours i could have let kids entertain theirowndamnselves in March and November in Rocky Point. *facepalm*. shopping for my own now, BodyGlove sez i should find a S for $40 on ebay.*double double facepalm*

G wanted to try it! ASAP! 
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A swim immediately after a breakfast buffet is safe, right? The kids surviving was proof that it is!! Then off to the Granite Creek Park pumptrack.

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imagine…a park with grass and shade trees. Prescott has its manzanitas, i rubbed too many of them the day before, but it has real trees too, and its only 1.5 hrs away. We should buy a place in Flag…

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i thought the dirt would be actual dirt, but like Phx was mostly sand. Its still the desert, though pebbles and ping-pong balls did not bubble up to the surface, which metaphors the differences from the Nix. Our beginner is their intermediate, their chunky finish skidding Old Ranch trail is a descent from the Tequila Tree, 15 degrees cooler. And with shade. and the Dells. I *heart* Prezkit.

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After Alana’s inevitable meltdown, we abandoned her at the Constellation Dells trailhead.  She caught up soon enough, and 3.7 minutes later was high on stoke. a 10 minute rockline excursion drove out the kids’ fears. Then they couldn’t be stopped, seeing lines and grip and gravity on their own.

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matching pant-holes
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Hands and feet hands and feet, lean into the rock. The soccer coaches told me even the pros practice 2v2, 3v3…keep the game simple.

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i was proud of myself, as a father, for the gloves. Kneepads would have been dad-of-the-year material.

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OHSO

I got this idear after our last trip to the zoo and dinner at Barrio Queen. 10 mile rt from Chaparral Park to OHSO and back!

art festival at Scottsdale Waterfront
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AZ Falls

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OHSO  offers $5 pints, or $9 40s. Like this is even an question.
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soccer, swim party, sleepover caught up with tinyShredder.
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We rolled the first 2 miles back, G nodding off and me with my hand in her armpit. At least she kept the bike vertical, it actually wasn’t that hard, kid still pedaled in her sleepy. She woke up about 68th St., and bet me a dollar she would stay awake for the ride home. I lost, I paid.

Cuatro Cuatro

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away

BEST.BDAY.EVAH!!

at least thus far, i hope.

Started with a Windgate\Bell double bypass, then we all hiked Elephant Mtn at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. G did great, and Alana not so bad.

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i *heart* spring in the desert
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please, come fuck me!
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trail crosses behind the nose and before the sad elephant eyes
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7 miles, much of it hard, and 1200 vf was a little more than i planned for them.

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there was a lb of strawberries amidst my backpack’s 30lbs of water and magic. It turned into a container for tp, after they pooped back out of G in a dusty wash 3hrs later. Dad, did you know that strawberries are the only fruit with seeds in their skin? Beckie heckles her cruelly.

the 1.5 mile approach to the saddle is not easy, was so proud of G for hiking all of it, and Alana did a respectable .25 mile push to the top.

there is a sketchy path to the top of the nose. Beckie and I took turns shooting up it.
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looking down to the saddle, where the kids are feasting on oreos and Crush
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Tom’s Thumb and the McDs ~20 miles south
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I wish I took pics of the previous 90 min, the trail was bigbluesquare awesome, i was too busy not abrasing my kids or slipping them into cactus to photograph. Steps and slots, washes and wayfinding, needle-narrowed switchbacks over slickrock.

Some conversations:

Beckie: Do you like going up or down better?
G: well, i like and dont like some about both of them

Me: it looks really easy, if you don’t look at the cliff
Beckie: just look at your feet
Me: you wanna ride this? we could totally ride this

Me: the secret is, you have to not like it to get to the best spots
G: will you show me some pictures?

Me: grab my fucking hand already!

shade, finally, only a few hundred yards at a time. Maybe hiking from 12-5 was not the best of ideas, but it was only 82, we’re acclimated and i had 2 gallons water
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and candy canes. i know how to incentivize
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also had chocolate stout for Beckie, never leave a man behind
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Dinner at Cafe Laredo, then we came home and planted seeds for Alana’s school project. Cause, daddy you’re a great gardener!

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Its true. I grew these mutant pepper leaves in my closet. When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, I will serve my species as a microfarmer (or a jr bike mechanic, i haven’t decided) before i can again serve as a programmer.

Despite the general bonhomie, everyone passed out before the candle ceremony proper. While, personally, i was fine with it, the collective guilt was overwhelming. Who was i to deny 3 beautiful blondes? I got an extra Bday on Sunday!!! I reciprocated by cooking banana ice-cream pancakes, did pilates and free weights for 2 hours, then took the kids to the pool. Alana learned how to use a torque wrench. The Bird flew again on a ride with G. cooking children and beer. Couldn’t get much better, unless the Chili Peppers played it.

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Angry Bird

What you give up to go up in the McDowells makes the downhills so much less fun. Yet I, I!, have perfected a route that stands in glorious contrast to this seemingly unbendable natural law. It took almost 4 years. The only thing you lose hauling a big bike up the hill is time, and its a workout anyway, right? There are even a few B-lines.

There is a jersey barrier that i finally willed myself up to the top, and dropped it so smooth i wondered what took 3 years. Cuuuuuuuzzzzz its very tall and very skinny, and the next time i wadded myself up at the very top and fell sideways at 0mph. Slow enough to see the crashlanding and plan my escape, with only a little bite to the elbow. I’ve spent years honing my matrix cat-like anti-cactii moves. Redemption came charging the downhill from the overpass before i could see the bottom, trusting the Bird to ride it out. Snowboarding.

A parallel thematic arc in my (self-indulgent) serial epic is hating myself for a $5k bike i dread riding uphill. Flats make the Bird so much awesomer .2% of the time. That .2% has bought me a dank nug of confidence that i turn to regularly. I treasure it, i would be broke(n) without it.

March 20, 2013 – alt dropin to HiLine in Sedona
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But clipless make the Bird awesomer so much oftener. i busted out my pedal wrench, hated the McDs no more, hitting under 8 min down Paradise Wash repeatedly, and jumping down-facing drops at the bottom of the golf course. Rerealizing why freeriding and techriding and going fast are so radiant, when there is an obliging climb to enjoy like tailgating.

Tequila Tree sits atop the last pitch down my most excellent route. I hammer and jump and fly hard for 1:00, 1:15, or 1:30, then sip liquor and get safe and stare out over the Valley. There is nothing in the McDs the Bird can’t swallow, as long as i lean back stay centered and point downhill. Firebird, take me home. Its a ReverseShuttle+DH training ride, and a metaphor, and a happy hour! I am marketing this workout program…

…I’ve been white-whaling over this for 2 years.

And my friends Chad and Scott have a weekly Tuesday techy ride at the 50 Year Trail in Oro Valley north of Tucson. These guys have been very influential to follow, reading their blogs and knowing them has opened up possibilities, about distance and cross-training and blawhging and humility. Showing up completely worthless would be disrespectful. So I prepped with 2 Somo rides, staring down the spine on the Waterfall 2x til i hit it, the S curve on 24th Street til i hit it. Pushed through cleanly on power and technique, compensating for confidence. terrified.

pics courtesy of Yuri
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Next week i rendezvoused in Tempe with John, who’s brilliant idea was to duck out on a Tuesday before Lumbergh noticed, and hammer down to the Old Pueblo to join in the 50 Year fun. John and I have hung out on AES rides for a few years, i recently rode his wheel down the precipitous north face of Tom’s Thumb. Its been inspiring fun to watch him transform from finishing in the dark with broken bikes to planning monster multi-days. He has gotten so strong and so gritty so quickly he completely shot by the part where most fast riders realize, despite some techy skills, i mostly sorta suck. And whine about having to get home. I hoped his hardtail 29er would slow him down enough to not feel my weakness. Really glad i got drawn into one of his schemes!!

The 50 jumped us right in – downward facing, gaps, chasing guys much stronger and practiced on these trials. Before I could process the adrenaline, or aggregate my insecurities, we hit this:

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Thankfully, I got to follow Alex down it, like many other big moves over the years. You cant deny me service under SB1062 simply because i call another man my security blanket!! Alex also broke out early to come shred woot woot!!! The pic is from Scott, from a ride I wasn’t on. And a bunch more courtesy of Chad and John. All the ganked pics makes this seem like a LOOK AT ME post. It is, but its not. If it was, would i include this?

mah tat makes me look rad! 
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the takeoff looked so easy…
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^ pics courtesy of John

It was like that for about 2 more hours. Chad and Scott were the most gracious hosts, to our 3 from the ‘Nix along with a few other cool folk from Tucson. Showing us the lines and indulging our false starts, and trusting us while they sessioned to their limits as well. Deformed verticals and rock crawling, elegant sunset shading the back side of the Catalinas, uplifting company. Each move got more confident, exponential irrational reaction to acts of will. I hustled to nurse the leaky rear tire punctured during my failed chasm jump, pushed to keep pace, yet despite all that the trail kept getting…not easier, but i got better.

These moments of beauty and fear and affirmation are what make sports so imperative to me. Its not the KOM, the scholarship, the statistics. Its being forced into choosing to be better than i think i can be. Weeks of other-people’s photo dumps are the closest i can do to share these flashes. They just…flash…and I am so grateful to have been there, and to have a record to remind me to be grateful every day.

thank you for the pics, the ride and the stoke. See their blogs for more!

There is a pic of me nailing this. But this one from Scott is so much better, people should see it for demonstrative purposes.

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Rob was a really cool guy, on a vision quest, to ride 1 bike for 1 year for under $1k. Watching him wiggle into and down this on a Transition Klunker after I’d taken 4 tries and crapped myself on my $5k squishy was another of the afternoon’s perfect moments.

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lol. just, lol. what a great afternoon!!!

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^more pics from Scott.

And just when i was ready to knock the bottom out of Lady Somo, just when Rage over lunch unclanged the parts i clanged up the day before, some dickless motherfucker stole this from me.

Pulled it off the bike frame locked to my rack outside the gym. *facepalm*. Admittedly i’ve gotten lazy, in the good old days you needed tools to rip off a thru axle. I’ve been trolling Craigslist, filled out a police report, looked at the gym’s video; if i don’t try, I’m encouraging this to happen again. I was angry for about 2 days. mostly i wish they took the whole thing. For the same outta pocket insurance would buy me a new expensive bike.

Prescription for feeling better about getting bike parts stolen: buy bike parts!  Saddles*, tires, rotor, axle and a new custom wheel!

*technically, I did not need 2 new saddles, but its part of the healing process. If i find my wheel i will pepperspray the asshole and kick him in the nads for costing me $500, but I’m really happy with how it ties the new HeiHei together!

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we rode through the park, got eggrolls, then rode some dirt home
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i miss you too

Aug 2012, Flagstaff – waiting for me while i was out riding
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Oct 2011
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Anal Parents, Listen!

lice is no one’s fault.

so wrapped up you have no sense of civic duty is fault.

Dog-Sized Hole

Lissie – Go Your Own Way

Kila died on Tuesday, February 4.  Her whole face swelled up the Friday before, big like a St. Bernard, i wanted to take a picture but that would have been cruel. The Vet and our thought was a scorpion bite or similar.  Kila got a steroid and some meds, which masked some pain and the vet said would upset her stomach, so we didn’t really tumble to how little she was eating til later on Saturday, which was pretty much too late.

Kila spent a terrible day shuffling from room to room, inside then outside then back in again, staying on her feet, full of stress and dogonlyknowswhat, shunning the many pillows we laid out for her. Why wouldn’t a dog who willingly snoozes for 20 hrs a day rest if she was achey? We gave her painkillers and antacids and benadryl.  She’d survived so much for so long we just thought it was an injury, even though in her whole floor-lying life shed never been bit by a scorpion. In retrospect, she was sluggish and not eating much starting on Wednesday. Easy to see now, who the fuck dies from a scorpion bite? She’s gotten so old and used to treats that its not unusual for her to skip her dry food for a day, or want a slow walk instead of a run. I didn’t take her to the Vet til noon on Friday, or panic when she didn’t quickly get better. The Vet too was calm about it, it just didn’t seem urgent.

Kila is 90 and had a great long life, loved by her family. The banality of saying that makes me strive to say something original, but I figure that sentiment is as old as mankind, so its probably genetics making me say it and believe it. The more death I see I realize its lucky to grow old, and even luckier to die gently.  For months I’d hoped to one morning find Kila still and unwakeable on the porch, gone painlessly in her sleep. Not collapsed on the floor, smeared in a thin coat of her own blood. Sunday i slept on the couch next to her, til she crawled off silently in her own pain. Monday night I told her i loved her, what a good girl she was, scratched her ears and left her gasping where she’d collapsed in the back yard. Her last act was to drag herself inside out of the sprinklers. I’m sure she didn’t feel inglorious about it, versus being ripped apart by other huskies.  At least she made it onto the tile to bleed.

I get it now, i have a pattern. When an old person who has had medical care finally dies, they crash down quickly, the inevitable being held off so long by money and medicine. I just didn’t expect it in dog-years.

For three days she wouldn’t eat. Only some chicken broth I found puked up in the yard a week later. We gave her meat puree and soup, we made a ham but she rejected hamfat. She drank water, her hips collapsing under her while she sipped from her bowl. Finally she was sitting, a little, falling to the side and forcing herself upright. Nodding off, fighting sleep. It must be a sick-dog thing to reject rest. I incredulously thought to myself “she is dying.”

She deteriorated. Her facial swelling had subsided, and Sunday we saw a lump on her jaw too big for a bite, which on Monday we found out to be an abscess full of staph and strep. Dog can’t talk to tell us she has a toothache, that was probably blooming into an infection for days. The parrot would have said my beak is killing me take me to an ornithologist. But not the dog. The closest she came was Thursday night, when she sat directly under the legs of my chair, another thing she’d avoided her whole floor-lying life. But never made a whimper.

Damn dog.

We were prepared to put her down Monday, and it would have saved her so much pain, but the vet suggested draining the abscess and immediate antibiotics and subcutaneous fluid might turn it around.  We wanted to give her one last shot, probably more than she wanted it. Monday was awful for Kila, she couldn’t stand, continued to slowly bleed from the shoulder, puked up food we spoon fed her, along with a stomachful of blood. She was whining and was so weak.

I hope she forgave us her last torment for 3+ yrs living with Valley Fever and 6 months of steady painkillers; medicine had been good to her so far. Any bitterness she may have felt went into the incinerator with her. They knocked $25 off the cremation price, because she was no longer 51-100 lbs. Only my guilt remains. Would you risk 1 day of pain for a chance at a few more months? I would, so I will not self-flagellate. I’m just really, really sad.

The last morning I carried her on a blanket curled up like a baby, a little dogball. I had never carried her that way before, and she had never looked at me with resignation before. Kila always looked at you like she…had a say in the matter. Always her bright eyes said she was ready, ready for something, ready to stand there slack-jawed and await the train bearing down on her but ready nonetheless to face that train. She finally was calm after they gave her the sedative cocktail, and moments after the vet finished the lethal injection her heart stopped.

I have not experienced the sudden stillness of death since Tsaina died in 2001. I am so very lucky. There was Kila, then gone. I wanted to hold on, for Kila not to be dead, to scratch her ears and nuzzle her neck and kiss  the magic doghead for just a moment more. There was nothing to be saved from that second not already tattooed in my memory, but it would have meant she hadn’t left us.

Kila’s fur is course, she looks chocolatey creamy and caramel, but its really a shiny layer of dirt and grim and dogscust. Scratching her for any length of time galvanizes upon you that you are intimate with a filthy lyingdownwith dog. Its the downy undercoat that creates Kila’s velvety impression. Her undercoat is so warm it feels hot, and sweat beads on your lip immediately when you kiss her.  The fluff adheres to your nostrils and eyebrows and dries your eyes, sticks in your stubble, you pull back and wipe your face and squint. Chin-to-neck and shoulder-to-shoulder are the best ways to snuggle with Kila, inhale her richness and glow and butterscotch.

Her eyes didn’t shut, even after i tried pulling her lids down like in every tv show. I kissed her neck anyway, pushed my face all the way in. The tips of her fur were already cooling. I had to, and i had to smell the blood and rot in her mouth one last time. That’s what killed her, not me. That smell — decay, disease, death — wouldn’t leave me for several days. It engrosses me every time i edit this post.

Tsaina took a long time to die. Her body was still so strong, the cancer in her leg having not fully destroyed her. I felt so guilty over Tsaina for so long, that we went too soon and she was so young. We needed it done finally more than she did, we’d agreed on Tsaina’s fate a lot farther out. Compared to Kila’s anguish, I can finally forgive myself for the decision to not let Tsaina suffer. In Kila’s last moment did she see herself as a puppy nursing her momma again with her brothers and sisters? Did she think of us, or the kids, or see a white light? Or did she gratefully greet the soft blessing of sleep, and fade out with a blissful buzz? I miss you so much Kila, I am so sorry.

The vet will return your cremated dog’s ashes to you, if you pay an extra $50.  I didn’t want her ashes, but somehow seeing her swept up like rubbish felt wrong. So i decided the family will have a wake for her. Eventually. I haven’t had the fortitude yet; I get angry listening to Alana ask questions about where Kila went and if we’ll get another dog. She is still young and so insensitive, she doesn’t realize her mercilessness.

Kila is gone, and I feel addled. Each day for the last two weeks I have been overwhelmed by the extra efforts of prewashing dishes, so many wasted calories, the cosmos will surely punish me til i adopt another dog. I made a whole ham and my dog died. Her last act as a diner was to somewhere bury the hambone that she wouldn’t eat. I haven’t found it in the yard yet. I’m sure when i do I will break down into sobs. The house is much quieter. No double slap-slap slap-slap of her going in or out, ripples of clicking tired toenails, shameless sloshing in the water bowl or toilet, tongue sliding a plate around the tile floor, barking at someone to tell them what the fuck was up. The hair on the floor, in every crevice, in my clothes are almost gone. There is less dust, and i swear the air inside the house is crisper. I get out in the mornings quicker and have an extra hour every night. So much more time to waste inside, the kids stare at video games where just days ago we took dogwalks and explored the dark. I’m in no rush to head back out. My bright eyes are shattered, its too lonely. I don’t know how to do it, watching a sunset without my dog.

Arenal Volcano

Our stay in La Fortuna was all about the Arenal Volcano.  After a morning playing in the pools and chasing butterflies we walked a few miles straight uphill from the Resort. We saw only  a few people, who were either surprised or concerned. M’eh. I carry water, powerbars, tp and sunscreen everywhere, and i speak passable espanol. All were put to good use.

climbing up a 2-track
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still climbing
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someone’s DH trail, some tabletops and a gap jump were spotted on the way up the flanks of the mountain. dark sticky dirt, no rocks
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top!!  G is becoming a hard little girl
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the hut along the lake held some different monsters
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We met the trail builders on the way back down, shuttling up with an atv and tow ropes. They had a connection that allowed them to build and ride on the Resort property, the trail went almost down to our room, not exactly hidden but hard to see if you weren’t looking. Yo quiero sus bicicletas. The secret MTBr handshake took over from there. voy a Moab, diez veces.  An SLR, a dropbox account and a little blonde girl wearing an mtb jersey go even further towards not being treated like tourons. ¡pura vida! Thanks guys for letting us walk down your trail.

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next day we went to the National Park for hiking and animal-watching, very low-key and uncrowded, lots to see if you looked carefully through all the textures and layers of green.
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i stood under this tree and watched green parakeets whip by, and back again. Glances were lucky moments, amidst the constant buzzing i pictured far more birds than the few i actually spotted. Look closely and you can find it in the pic below.
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granny panties
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I was so stoked from our hikes, I ganked wifi in the hotel lobby to find something even better for manana. And i did. -2k up in about 2 miles along the smaller adjacent Cerro Chato volcano. 10 min from the hotel, entry fee but no need for a guide!  It wasn’t that long, but the pitch and dense rainforest made it far beyond what we could do with the kids. Beckie graciously let me have the morning to myself. It was the highlight of my trip.

O-dark thirty wakeup, coffee and spanish buffet. I set off into the mist.
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propiedad privada had a sign in list, telling me i was first on the trail
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i charged up for 2 hrs, seeing little perspective, knowing by my effort and gps i was making progress, but not really believing. The profile is like hiking The Canyon, but harder in a different way. Instead of bone-jarring endless steps and furnace-conditions in the Inner Gorge or ice at the top, this was slicky sticky every stride up, slippy slidey on every footplant, everything soppy and grabby.  The jungle was adhesive.  The rain came steadily through the glutinous mist. Not hard, each raindrop hit multiple objects as it dripped down, a baseline of clamor inside a blanket of otherwise quiet.

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i swam uphill and found my happy place with the drizzle
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~1:45 to get up, then a fast but very plucky scramble down into the caldera
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The lagoon view disappointed, but the journey was so exciting and uncommon. Why trade 3 hrs of precipitation  for the 350 days of sunshine i get annually? 
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the climb out was hand-over-hand
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a Predator challenge, the fastest way up was through
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encountered the first other people back at the top
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Our last morning we set out to find a spot we saw a few day earlier, full of parked cars and steam and bathers walking along the narrow 2-lane highway into the jungle.

We found it.
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 natural hot spring heating a creek running down from Arenal and under the road
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The swimming hole extends upstream, through and downstream of the underpass
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cool trees all around the outskirts of San Jose
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