28 October 2013

The Date Auction

September was a big month for crossing things off the ol' 30 before 30 list. In addition to visiting another NEW country (Croatia!!!!) and getting one month closer to my goal of skiing 30 consecutive months (to be completed, barring injury or a weather catastrophe [*knock on wood*] in April 2014), I also achieved the goal of "Stepping Completely Out of My Comfort Zone".

But Kristina, you are crazy adventurous! How do you even HAVE a comfort zone???

Well my friends, I do have one, and apparently you can find it by putting me on the auction block.

When my friend Matty (you remember Matty from my trip to Chicago) first asked me to be involved in the BEAN Bachelor & Bachelorette Auction, I thought, "sure, that sounds like fun, there's definitely worse ways to meet people when you are single." Then we got into the nitty-gritty. Not only did I have to figure out what to do for my date, but I had to get it donated (or pay out of pocket), write a tantalizing tantalizing description of by myself AND my date, and then advertise the hell out of all of it.


The Trouble Makers

You'd think this would be easy for me. I like writing, I certainly do enough of it here. I seemingly have no issue talking about myself. But for some reason this was different. The writing they requested was just a little.....over-the-top-self-indulgent for me. Here's a taste:

Kristina is adventurous, fun, and full of spunk....She’s quick witted, intelligent, and incredibly caring and devoted to those close to her. A backcountry skier, mountaineer, climber, runner, and LIFE enthusiast, Kristina will quell your insatiable thirst for adventure while challenging you to the limit....With stunning green eyes and an infectious laugh, Kristina sure to give you memories to last a lifetime.

But I powered through the discomfort and the auction arrived before I knew it. Fueled by wine and with a balloon on my wrist and sash on my shoulder, I sashayed (she what I did there?) around the room hitting up handsome men to bid on me.

When my time came to take the stage I definitely made a memorable appearance. Okay, I *might* have yelled at the audience a little.... What? The sound system unfortunately was not up-to-snuff and you could hardly hear the auctioneers/auctionees! So....I may have told people to be quiet. FOR THE CHILDREN! (BEAN raises money for college scholarships for under-privileged high-school students). 

Ladieeeeeeeeeees

And then I proceeded to raise a buttload of money. Yes, that is a real amount. In my case a buttload equals a cool grand. The lucky winner got me, PLUS a trip to the Adventura high-ropes course, beers at delicious Red Hook (because: beers), and dinner at a Tom Douglas restaurant. Who was the lucky winner? Why my friend Matt of course! But not Matty, Matt. I know, this is confusing. But you remember Matt.

Go Sounders!

And for the record, I raised the second most amount of money. The winner of the most-money prize went to a gal who had SIDELINE tickets for the Seahwaks/49rs game. And she only went for $1099 (sounds more like she came off the discount rack than a date auction....). So, I feel pretty good about it. I feel even better about being able to cross "Get Ridiculously Out of Your Comfort Zone" off the 30 Before 30 list.

Thanks to all of my amazing friends who came - including Theresa and Hexar!

21 October 2013

Husky Football in Chicago

It's hard to imagine, but many years ago when I was not-so-outdoorsy, I created this blog to be about my travels. It was 2008 and I was inspired by a recent trip to Patagonia. Having previously spent 9-weeks in Europe, plus a trip to Japan, I figured I'd have plenty of backlog to write about while planning my next trip. Well, those European blogs are still waiting to be written....

The blog, as you know my 3 dear readers, has become about my ridiculous outdoor escapades, generally while wearing a tutu and most definitely while carrying my constant travel companion and Action Figure Mascot Grandpa Max, and less so about travel. Nowadays whenever I travel it seems to be for ridiculous outdoor escapades!

Me, Grandpa, and Matty all headed to Chi-Town! EXCITED FACE!

However, very occasionally I do travel for something other than adventures outside. And last month I found myself in windy Chicago (full disclosure: it wasn't that windy) to visit my amazing friends there while taking in a Husky Football game! Me and seven of my friends and fellow Husky faithful descended on Chi-town where we handily beat the Illinois Illini at beautiful Soldier Field. Not only that, but the weather was spectacular and my hosts were even better. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the weekend!

Great view of Rainier from the airplane

View from the Aon Tower
My oldest and bestest friend! We go way back to freshman year (of high school)!

Finally saw the Book of Mormon. It changed my life.

Seattle contingent + the lovely Lisa

Soldier Field (redundant caption)

Beautiful day!

Tailgating!

My dates and good luck charms

I had to go say hi to my UW Band Director. NERD!

Beautiful soldier field. Made even prettier by WINNING!

I had never seen one of these soda machines before. Thank goodness James showed me the light!

10 October 2013

Climbing in Cepic, Croatia

On Wednesday morning I woke up at dawn to take a little adventure run through Rovinj. I was expecting a gorgeous sunrise and beautiful scenery, which I had in spades. I wasn't expecting all the cheering and honking and clapping that I received from the locals. Either the locals had never seen a runner as graceful and sprite as myself (unlikely), OR they are just REALLY EXCITED about running! Hey, I'll take it!


Rovinj

A little bit closer

Seaside dining

Slippery old cobblestone walkways

Here is a church, here is a steeple...
...open the door, and see, NO PEOPLE?

More teeny walkways and old buildings

From the other side

The streets. This isn't even a panoramic shot, that building is just skinnyminnie

After my morning yog, we all set off to climb in Cepic, an area we had selected from the book based on it's description. Newly created, the area was on private farmland in a canyon with walls on both sides. it alleged to be home to a number of good climbs in our ideal range.

In keeping with Croatian tradition, we got lost en route. I've included a photo of our "map" for you below. The rocks are market in dark grey, "cities" are noted, and there are in fact distance markers, which should be considered more like guidelines.

"Map"

At one point, we get stuck near at a church at the top of a hill (go figure). When I backed up on some grass on a slight grade the wheels started spinning and we couldn't move forward. But...the "ballast" in the back seat simply climbed out to push and we were back on our way in no time at all! After a good laugh of course.

We also discovered an underground drug trafficking area. Yes, you read that correctly. Men with drugs and cars - but don't worry, we didn't see any guns. Cepic is close to the Slovenian boarder, and after days of not really seeing anyone else at all, pairs of men in fancy Audis and Mercedes kept driving past us on dirt roads at breakneck speeds. It didn't take a rocket scientist to put two and two together.

Eventually we found said climbing area and parked in an abandoned field. The girls waited and snacked while Ed went to scope out the scene to return triumpantly - we made it!

Lunch time

Rocks
WE MADE IT!

Unfortunately, after wandering for a few minutes we learned the rock was wet. Not damp, but seeping...oozing black terribleness in some places. I was sad. Not even my tutu could cheer me up.

Sarah was undeterred and put up some impressive routes with Linnea. Ed and I found something dry and fun until we got to the top to discover missing anchors, the third Ed had found on this trip actually. A few more routes were tried, but then we all admitted defeat and headed back home for a relaxing evening. You know it's a bad day climbing when the highlight of your afternoon is a farmer driving by with his tractor - which I must admit - was quite a novelty!

Blerg. Everything is wet.
Correction - everything is wet AND it leaves gross black stuff on your fingers


Highlight of the afternoon - our buddy Mr. Farmer
The farmer and the climber - a NOT love story

09 October 2013

Climbing Raspadalica + BONUS Dinner in Slovenia!

While climbing in Rovinj, we met a couple from Austria who had been climbing in the region for a few weeks. The guy was smoking (not smoking hot, smoking a cigarette you saucy minx [although, yes, I must admit he was rather attractive, minus the whole smoking thing]) while he was belaying, but given that EVERY european climber smokes while crushing 5.11's, we decided to talk to him anyway.

He recommended a few places in the area, told us the crags to avoid, and was generally quite helpful. Armed with his beta, we set off confidently the next morning (Tuesday) for Raspadalica, Croatia. Internationally renown as a top paragliding destination, Raspadalica is just a tiny campground on the top of some bluffs overlooking the town of Buzet. To the north you can see Slovenia.

For a world class paragliding spot, Raspadalica was damn hard to find! In keeping with Croatian tradition, we became tragically lost en route to the crag, although we were proud to make it to the turnoff to Buzet with very little trouble (it helped that it was an "end destination" on our map, so all the signs pointed us there).

Following our guidebook's directions, we drove through the countryside, passing many tiny towns, often consisting of just one home, but clearly marked on the map. I wish I had taken more photos of the countryside. It was gorgeous. Like this, but with roads:

Sarah walking in the countryside

We thought we were on the right-ish path when we crossed the railroad tracks (as indicated in the guidebook), then turned 90 degrees to the left and faced a large hill to climb. "This makes sense, we're going to a bluff," we thought, and I downshifted our under-powered and over-loaded Chevy Spark into 1st and geared up the hill, narrowly fitting between a 500-year-old barn on one side and 1,000-year-old stone wall on the other. Up we climbed for only about a minute... before almost driving into someone's living room.

Oops.

Our little road was not a road at all. It was a driveway.

Not only that, we were now parallel to the owner's kitchen window.

Seeing the colorful car of Americans, the stout Croatian woman ambled speedily towards us. She spoke not a lick of English; we greeted her with the only Croatian word we knew: "Bog." Hello. We then proceeded to have, I am not exaggerating, a 5-minute conversation using gestures. We 'told' her we were climbers. At one point we handed her our climbing book. She had no idea what we were saying, but kept giving directions anyway. Ed, next to me in the front seat, kept nodding and saying "okay, okay," even though, again, we had no idea what she was saying. Eventually, I harangued our guide book back from her, and we thanked her in the only other Croatian word we knew, "Hvala". Thank you. And we were on the road again.

The woman was so kind and clearly wanted to help us so, so much. I really regret not getting her picture, and a picture of her lovely home complete with golden retriever and a kitten sitting in the window. Here's what I found on the interwebs to barely maybe do it justice - This was the sort of place that people run away to:

Countryside home

Okay, so if you are still with me, good on you! Thanks for reading. I mean, people ask how the trip was, I can't just show pictures all the time!!!

So, back down the hill we went. We did eventually find the climbing area after driving up what can only be described as a "remote" road. Surprisingly well maintained, this road was kind of like a rally course. I definitely had the most fun I've EVER had driving while on this trip. Sarah and Linnea didn't even get (too) carsick AND both agreed I would drive their car should they ever get into rally racing, so, I'll count that as a win.

We finally found the Raspadalica campground and parked our car and walked to the bluffs. We were met with sprawling views of Buzet. The photos do not do it justice.

The bluffs

Buzet

Old town Buzet. Like all Croatian cities = a church on a hill surrounded by red roofs.


We quickly roped up and started finding routes in the guidebook. Sarah put up a 5c and I warmed up on a 5a. The ratings are different in Europe, so a 5c is roughly equivalent to a 10a, and a 5a = 5.8. The climbing was decent in my opinion, although certainly on the "new" and "in-need-of-cleaning" side. Let's just say we climbed over our fair share of bushes.

Sarah warming up - watch out for that bush!

Happy after the first lead of the day

Can you see the climber through the trees?

It wasn't long before the paragliders came out to play, floating silently above our heads as we concentrated on the routes in front of us. I don't think Sarah even knew there was a paraglider above her when I took this photo!

Sarah + Paraglider = LOVE
Not a bad place to float around

As you can see, the weather was fantastic - sunny and clear although quite humid - and it just plain tuckered out Ed and Linnea, who both found comfortable places to take a load off. There were also butterflies EVERYWHERE. If you've never run through a field of butterflies, I highly recommend it.


I love this photo of Linnea, so peaceful. Ed looks quite peaceful too.

Butterfly Chaco

Monkeying around


We climbed the afternoon away and sent most of the routes within our climbing abilities. With the sun hot on our backs at 4pm, we threw in the towel and headed north, TO SLOVENIA! On the way out of town we finally got a look at where we had been climbing. Not bad, eh?

Raspadalica Bluffs

Why Slovenia you ask? Because it was close and I like passport stamps, OKAY? Plus Grandpa Max needed another stamp in his mini-passport. And, seeing as we got a stamp for leaving Croatia and one for entering Slovenia, that little dinner across the border earned me FOUR new stamps!

We dined in Koper, Slovenia, a lovely seaside town much like Rovinj, only in a different country where they have different money and speak a different language. The novelty of that will never wear off on me.

Boats!

Ladieeeeeees.

AMAZING water feature! Looks like a daffodil. 

Not a bad sunset.

Looking the other way.

Grandpa ordered the wine. The pizza was for me.