Friday, October 16, 2009

Favorite {Photo} Friday--They Come in Threes?

You may have noticed that the past two Fridays have featured photos of my sister and my mom because it was each of their birthdays. Well, in our family, October birthdays come in threes. Tuesday is my birthday! So I thought I'd stick with the trend and post a photo of myself. :)

Three years ago we still lived in Italy and everything was perfect. Okay, kidding about that last part. But we did still live in Italy, and my birthday fell on a weekend, so Jason and I headed further north into the mountains into the Alto Adige region and Austria.

For some unknown and stupid reason, I let my beloved husband talk me into going hiking. On my birthday weekend. Before you start thinking that I'm a wimpy girl for not liking hiking, let me assure you that I like hiking. I like hiking, as defined by most dictionaries: "to go on an extended walk for pleasure or exercise." What my dear husband calls "hiking," however, involves not only walking but clambering, climbing, straining, hauling, and, usually for me, hurting, fearing, and/or crying. Dude is intense. As an example, on one of our "hikes," I lost four toenails.

Luckily, this particular trip was not nearly so bad; I think he was taking pity on me because it was my birthday. Here's a cute photo of us on our hike:

As I was typing and thinking about this trip, I remembered that I'd written about it before. So I scoured my old MySpace blog, my slideshows, Snapfish, etc, and I finally found that I'd sent it as a plain old e-mail with photo attachments! :)

I thought it would be fun to post the e-mail because, re-reading it now, I realized there's a lot I'd already forgotten. So here it is, unedited (I had to stop myself), like a time capsule from three years ago. :) The only change I made was to break up the long paragraphs by inserting the photos into the appropriate places.

Jason took Friday off and on Thursday night after work we drove up to a spa in the mountains. It was about an hour and a half away, in the Alto-Adige/S├╝dtirol region, which means that although *technically* you're still in Italy, it *feels* like you're in Austria or Germany already (Austria was about 7 miles away).... All the houses are wood with the gingerbread decorations and the huge balconies with flowers along the whole length of the building on every story, with the murals on the side depicting very German things like horses pulling carts laden with hay, or men and women working in the fields in their traditional dress. :) Oh, and everyone speaks German first, Italian second. Jason is convinced that he could learn German even though he struggles with Italian, and I must admit that when he was pronouncing those 20-letter-long words he *sounded* like he had it right! Very gutteral, my husband. :)

Anyway, the spa was wonderful! They had an indoor pool, and a "Saunarium" (with a sign on the door that said--in four languages--"Naked Zone," with a picture of a topless woman sitting in a sauna, I'm still laughing) that was heavenly. They had a Finnish sauna (about 92 Celcius and 30% humidity); a "BioSauna" (about 60 Celcius, 40% humidity, and a bunch of dried herbs so it smelled yummy); a Turkish bath (read: steamroom, about 40 Celcius and 100% humidity); an Infrared room that Jason and I never could figure out (what's the point of sitting in a closet--with a glass door, no less, so everyone can see you sitting in there--with a colored light shining on you?); a whirlpool that was entirely not hot enough and which climbing in and out of would have resulted in whoever was currently occupying the whirlpool to know entirely too much about a person, in my opinion; and a "Relax Grotto," where you could go post-sauna to lay on a little water-filled bed in a stone grotto with candles and soft music playing, really quite lovely!

[Taken from the front yard of the hotel. There were cows grazing on the mountain so when you walked outside you heard the far-away ringing of cow bells, so cool!]

On Friday we took it easy, swimming and took a little drive and got lunch and then of course came back to hit the saunarium when it opened at 3. Before dinner we walked into town to stretch out my new hiking boots, and Jason ended up buying some ski boots. On Saturday we drove up to a national park that contains the "Tre Cime," or three chimneys, huge rocks sticking up out of the top of the mountain that, from the proper angle, sort of look like three chimneys. Sort of. With the right lighting. :) So off we hiked, around the base of the Tre Cime (pronounced chi-may).

[On the drive to the Tre Cime. Italy has Larch, which are deciduous conifers--"evergreen" trees that aren't evergreen!]

Many of you know that I don't like hiking on gravel, especially when that gravel is on a steep slope that I could easily slip on and fall down and either break a limb or die, especially in a country in which my husband doesn't speak the language to quickly summon help. :) [I'm not scared of spiders, or snakes, or flying, or even of heights--my phobia is *falling* and nearly dying.] Jason had done a little checking and had heard that the path was mostly flat all the way around, so after a moment of panic climbing *down* to the trail from the parking lot, we were on a nice wide path that I couldn't have slipped to my near-death on. Happy, happy Cameron! Hiking on the day after my 31st birthday, in Northern Italy, with my husband who loves me, being alive and active and enjoying life completely!

[See how happy we are!]

Then we got to the far side of the cime, where we were to turn around the sharp end and hike along the other side. We saw people walking with hiking sticks, and Jason promised that there was a trail, but all I saw was little tiny blobs of color slowly moving alongside a huge bank of sharp, pointy gravel, with a steep incline on either side of them--definitely "slip and fall to your near-death" territory if I ever saw it! So I looked out and saw another path that was further out from the direct base of the cime, that looked perfectly safe and therefore lovely. :) If you're guessing which path we took, you really haven't been paying attention. :) It turns out that our path was much nicer because we actually got nice views of the cime since we were a little further away from the base. Oh, and it was also nicer because I wasn't having a panic attack. :)

[The Tre Cime.]

[The best picture we have of the slip and fall to your near death path vs. the one we took. I wish there was a person on the path so you could have perspective. Click on the photo to see it larger.]

When we got about 3/4 of the way around, things got a little squirrelly as our path joined back up with the slip-and-fall-to-your-near-death path; now we were on a decent trail, which was flat and plenty wide enough for just one person, but there was still a steep slope on our left and a big drop-off on the right. So I thought about my Grandpa Earl, which I always do when I get in physically scary or demanding situations, 'cause he was a tough ol' guy, and I try to get inspiration and courage. So I thought about horses, since he was a cowboy, and I thought about blinders, so I just held my right hand up to my right eye so I could only see the path and not the enormous valley below! Ha ha! But it worked. We made it back to flat and safe ground, and I only needed a minute to calm back down, ha ha. :)

[Does this look like Lord of the Rings or what?]

[Jason playing Frodo Baggins. This is in the flat part where we took the path further out from the base. Again, click on the photo to see it larger--Jason is in a red coat!]

We made it back to the car about three and a half hours after we started. It was a nice workout, especially since we were at 7750 feet above sea level, and made us feel that we'd worked off some of the great food that the hotel had been feeding us!

We drove down to a "malga," which is a little place up in the mountains that makes cheese of all kinds--cow, goat, sheep. They usually have very simple and very good food, with, as you can imagine, lots of cheese. :) We had an amazing meal--we both think that it would have been quite good if we'd just driven there, but after our hike it was just about the best lunch we've ever had. :) Then we went back to the hotel and promptly sauna'ed our asses off. :) My dream home is going to have a Finnish sauna! We took a nap in the grotto, then I sauna'ed some more, then we went for a swim. The indoor/outdoor whirlpool was open today (it wasn't on Friday), so Jason and I tried it out. It is like a small pool, about four feet deep, with jets at various heights on one side and a sloped metal rack-type thing on the other side. We quickly figured out that you pushed the red button to activate each jet, and on the wall it was great to stand against each one--lower back, upper back, thighs, calves, perfect after our hike. So we went over and laid on the sloped metal rack and pushed the red button--waaahooah! It was hysterical, we were both being bounced around by the jets and had to hold on to the metal rack just to stay in place! It felt great but very odd, I've never seen anything like it. Neither of us could stop laughing!

Yesterday we drove home the long way, heading up into Austria through the mountains.

All of the trees are changing colors, it was really beautiful. So, all in all, a great weekend! Thanks again for your birthday wishes!



So there we are! That was, for me, a fun trip back in time. I hope you enjoyed it as well! :)


cynthia said...

Oh a birthday card will be on your way:) Might be a little belated:) You know I adore hearing about your travels. Ok Austria's fall foliage has to be one of the best I have ever seen:) And those non-evergreens in Italy. wow. Last but not least the spa seems delightful!!!!!! What fabulous birthday memories!!!! Please do have a fabulous Birthday and I am sure Jason has one heck of birthday planned for you:)

jen said...

WOW. wow. What a fan-tab-u-lous trip. Thank you for taking us with you (even if for a moment). The pictures are amazing. The one of you and Jason should be blown up and framed and hung proudly. Just gorgeous.

I am not a hiker but could possibly be convinced after seeing those pictures.