Friday, March 25, 2016

Adventures In Fitness: Vol. 1

Today I decided that I would be adventurous and try a new fitness center.  There are few things that give me as much pleasure as new fitness centers.  It's the first thing I look for when I check into a hotel and I love visiting other people's gyms.  Anyway, this one was located just one town over so I decided to stop on in and see what all they hype was about.  Well, it was great.  The equipment was up-to-date and maintained, and they had all of that extra stuff that I would order for my home gym if I wasn't too lazy to exercise at home.  I spent some quality time with the treadmill, the weights, the medicine balls.  I was sufficiently worked out when I decided that I would move on to shower time before my stagecoach turned back into a pumpkin.

A little background:  I worked a job for about two years and I maintained a locker there throughout my employment.  I opened it in the morning, at break time, lunchtime, and after work probably 5-6 times daily for about two years.  A couple of months ago I found my old lock and, hooray, the old combo still worked!  I've been using it at the gym once in a while.  

I was stinky, sweaty, and ready for my shower, but WTF???  Why won't my locker open?!?!  Was it 5, 7, 9? No, 9, 5, 7?  Sh#$!!!  It wasn't these particular numbers, but you get the point.  I was starting to get frustrated and embarrassed.  "OMG, are these people looking at me?"  I bet they're wondering why I'm taking so long.  I bet they're wondering why this random black girl is trying so hard to get into this locker that she clearly doesn't have the combination to.  "I know, I'll call home!  Wait, my phone is in the car and car keys are in this damn locker along with my ID to prove that I'm not some shady locker burglar.  FACK!!!"

Still unwilling to admit defeat, I asked a stranger for paper and pencil so that I could write down all of the possible combinations of numbers that I believed could be part of my locker combination.  The seniors were done with swim aerobics and they were trying to help.  Finally, I just went to the front desk and said, "I need help, I can't get into my locker (cause I'm a dummy)."

The front desk people were totes casual about it, so it must happen more often than I thought.  They brought out the jaws of life for lockers and my stuff was free!  Thank goodness.  I don't really know what the moral of the story is.  I could buy a new lock, but I'll probably forget that combo too.  The good news is that I was able to take a break from the kids, get in a nice full body strength training workout, and that I am blessed enough to be able to complain and blog about first world problems such as these.  

As Becky likes to say, Onward and Upward!


Discovering the Wilderness (Hiking at the Wind Wolves Preserve)

Oh, play me some mountain music,
Like grandma and grandpa used to play...
Then I'll float on down the river...
To a Cajun hideaway.
-- Alabama 

Hello, friends! Sorry I have been so bad about posting lately. I've been a little overwhelmed with things at home and at work, and just haven't had a chance to capture all the ideas that are floating around in my head. First - a confession. I have not ran in over 3 weeks, and have multiple races coming up in the next 5 weeks. Yes, MULTIPLE. YIKES! I have a 5K tomorrow morning, another 5K next weekend, and a 10K at the beginning of May. Yes, I know I need to get back at it. Yes, I have allowed to give myself excuse after excuse to not run. And no... it's not funny anymore. So, I start my running training again tomorrow starting with that 5K, and with God's good grace, I might be able to finish that 10K by May. We'll see!

So, what have I been doing? Well, I have been lifting weights here and there, so that's good at least. And on the weekends, I've been hiking! One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to go hiking with my parents, and I sort of took it for granted that I would always live somewhere that hiking was accessible. After college, however, I found myself living in the very flat Houston, TX and similarly flat New Orleans, LA areas, and discovered that I had to find other ways to entertain myself outdoors. There were other things, mind you, but my heart longed to hike a mountain! Heck, I would have settled for a solid hill!

Since moving to California four years ago, I have quickly rediscovered my love for hiking. I'll probably post about several hikes in upcoming posts (I already posted about the Hollywood Sign Hike and my hike in Muir Woods), but today I will dedicate to my favorite hike as of late - the Wind Wolves Preserve in Kern County, California. 

The Wind Wolves Preserve is part of The Wildlands Conservancy, a non-profit nature preserve system "... comprised of fifteen preserves encompassing 147,000 acres of diverse mountain, valley, desert, river, and oceanfront landscapes." The Wind Wolves Preserve is the largest of the fifteen, covering over 93,000 acres. The elevation of the park ranges from over 600' to just over 6,000', which gives it the unique ability to expose visitors/hikers to a variety of climates and ecosystems in one area. Late winter and early spring are my favorite times to visit - this is when the hills are at their greenest, and the wildflowers are in impressive bloom!

There are a number of established trails throughout the preserve, but I've really only mastered two. I want to do the others, but they're just far enough to be too far for my dog, so I haven't made it out there yet. (My little basset hound is a trooper, but 3 to 4 miles seems to be his limit.). The trail I most often take with my dog is the San Emigdio Canyon Trail (pictured above). The full length of the San Emigdio Canyon Trail is just over 9 miles long, but we never go that far with Diego (my dog).

When hiking trails like this, I always look at the trail map and establish a goal turnaround point. I know my dog's limits (and mine), so I plan ahead. The worst thing you can do when you're hiking is get ahead of yourself, hike too far, and not have the stamina (or enough water) to get back safely. We always hike out to the willows/wetlands on this particular trail, and turn back. To this point, San Emigdo Canyon Trail is easy enough for almost all fitness levels and you get just enough elevation gain to feel like you have to work for it. It's not very shady, however, so take plenty of water and wear sunscreen! I've been told that you get greater elevation gain as you continue toward the reflection pond (approx. 1.8 miles further), so I rate the entirety of the trail more moderate than easy. 

The other trail I like to take is the Tule Elk Trail. Both the San Emigdo Canyon and Tule Elk Trails start at the same location, just south of the parking area. You'll veer to the left (east) for the San Emigdo Canyon Trail, and to the right for the Tule Elk Trail. The Tule Elk Trail looks deceptively easy. It's not easy, but it's not too hard. During the first two miles, you will steadily gain roughly 1000'. But then you get to the top... Oh, how it's worth it!

If you're smarter than me, you will follow the trail as it makes it way to the valley south of the summit, circling back to the parking area via the El Camino Viejo Bike Trail. This will give you a total distance of 7.8 miles, but your legs will thank you. If you're not as smart as me, you'll turnaround at the summit and go back the way you came, shaving off only 2 miles from your trip, but it's a steeper descent. (oh, my burning shins!) Haha. Lesson learned!

One of these days I'll go without my dog and hike the full length of the San Emigdo Canyon Trail. The folks at Nobody Hikes in LA did the full hike - you can read about it here. It looks awesome! Kern County is home to some of my favorite hikes in California, several within an hours drive of Bakersfield (Sequoia Park, Kern Canyon, Tehachapi, Wind Wolves, etc) and only two short hours from LA. I definitely recommend adding it to your list of hiking destinations! Hope you have a fun and active weekend, my friends. Happy Easter!



Monday, March 7, 2016

Too Many Words

"Very often we write down a sentence too early, then another too late; what we have to do is write it down at the proper time, otherwise it's lost." -- Thomas Bernhard

Ok, ok! Stop clamoring! I'm here! (Yeah, yeah... I know only one of you missed me. But my friend's not-so-subtle jabs got me to write this, so here I am! Thanks a lot...)

I've been sitting with this laptop on my lap for the last 30 minutes, and I'm still at a loss as to what I should write. My motivation to do anything lately has completely gone away. I'm not working out much (maaaaaaybe 3-4 times/week), I'm not sleeping much, and I'm definitely not writing much. I am working a lot, but that's not new. So as I sit here pondering what to write tonight, I decided that I wouldn't actually write at all. I have a couple of hiking blogs to post, but I'll have to get to those after I return from my mini vacation this weekend. In the meantime?

Well, for now I thought I would share a couple of articles I thought other people might enjoy - people who, like me, seem to have lost their motivation lately. I selected articles with only 4 points each, so these are super easy to read:
  • Want abs like Jessica Alba, but hate laying on the ground to do crunches? Read "4 Best Ab Exercises for Women" by Laura Williams at And guys - you can do these too!
Hope that these articles help you find your mojo. And I hope that I find mine soon too! These cupcakes are going to catch up with me sooner or later. Humph. 

Until we meet again!