Monday, September 19, 2016

Sieczkowski's do Spain

As you may or may not remember the hubs and I had a failed travel attempt to  Peru earlier this year. While the first few days were AMAZING, the trip ended in a horrible stay in a Peruvian ICU.

We both had about 1.5 weeks off from work in September to celebrate our 2 year anniversary and randomly decided to try our hands at traveling abroad again.  

This time:  Spain

Hubs has been wanting to travel to Mallorca after seeing pictures of Chris Sharma deep water soloing (rock climbing).  We did our research, looked at prices, and decided it would be PERFECT for the two of us.  

There would be enough adventuring for the hubs, and some beautiful beaches to relax on.

We spent 2.5 days in Barcelona - I really like to consider these the jet-lag days.  We spent most of our time peeling our eyelids up and trying not to sweat through our clothes in the 95+ humidity weather.

.... we weren't very successful.

But that's ok, because by the time we got to Mallorca we were fully awake and ready to explore!

I'll share some photos from the trip but I'll probably post more detailed posts later on.  For now I'd like to leave you with a few observations I made during our stay in Spain:

1.  Smokers.... everywhere.  
The hubs and I struggled with the amount of smoking in Spain.  We'd find ourselves running to walk in front on someone so that we wouldn't be behind their plume of smoke, only to be caught behind someone else smoking again.

From eating breakfast/lunch/dinner to walking on the beaches, you can't escape the cigarette smoke.  Maybe I'm just overly sensitive to it, but it will make me reconsider visiting Europe any time soon.

2.  No Cell Phones
Ok.... not period.  But at one point I asked Aaron if he noticed how the teenagers were actually talking to each other and not glued to their cell phones.  Very rarely would we see any one sitting at a park bench with their nose glued to their phone.  They'd be engaging in conversation with others, watching people, reading a newspaper, eating, etc.  

And it was the teenagers especially who shocked me the most.  They'd be in groups talking to each other and not ONE would have a cell phone out!  

How refreshing.

3.  Selfie sticks are worshipped.
What. A. Crackup.  EVERYONE had selfie sticks.  There were even vendors at the main tourist attractions that would rent them for the silly tourists who forgot theirs.  At first we thought it was a joke - then we realized it was real.

For now I leave you with my few observations above, and some photos from our journey.  I apologize ahead of time for the poor image quality.  Adios!

Park Guell

Sa Calobra

Cliff jumping - Mallorca

La Sagrada Familia

Monday, August 08, 2016

Playing tourist in Portland

One thing you need to know about Portland is that our summers consist of 3 months.  The remaining 9 months are gloomy and/or rainy.

I'm ok with the rain and gloom - but it  doesn't make for a good time to have visitors.  The hikes are limited.  The outdoor walking is limited.  The coast is chilly.  

But the 3 months that we DO have of summer are amazing.  We always say we put up with the 9 months of rain for the amazing 3 months of summer.

But the hard part about only having 3 months of good weather is that means there's only 3 months where people can visit.  What does that mean for us?  Back-To-Back-To-Back Visitors.

BUT we love having friends and family get to experience our city - so it's a price we pay!

We recently had the hubs' family in town for 4 days, and then the next day my Aunt and Cousin came to town for 5 days.  


I got super sick (of course) so I was more focused on trying to see if I could work in a nap time with my head cold, but I still put my big girl pants on and played tourist in Portland.

We hit up the coast, the gorge, Hood River, berry picking, and all of Portland (did a West side day, an East side day, and a West + East side day).

Cannon Beach

Our berry picking view of Hood
Salt and Straw

While I love my city - I learned that I'm a horrible tour guide
I loathe driving, parallel parking, and navigating new neighborhoods.  I was probably more stressed than I needed to be and couldn't quite enjoy the time.  But we got to hit up all of Portland's finest (Salt and Straw, Food Carts, Pittock Mansion!) so I'm not complaining one bit.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Audio Book Review: The Help

My days consist of a 25 mile commute that often takes me over 1.5 hours (...especially in the summer).  While the distance isn't too terribly far, I spend a good chunk of my afternoon sitting in traffic trying to make it over the bridge into Washington.

What makes this commute worse is that I get carsick - even when I drive.

I know I know I know - I hear it 

"I've heard of people getting carsick as the passenger but never the driver."

Not this gal - I get carsick even while driving.

One thing that helps is listening to podcasts and/or audiobooks.

My co-worker recently loaned me her copy of The Help (unabridged) and I can't get enough of this book - so much that I felt the need to write up a bloggy post.

I know you've probably already seen the movie, and you've maybe even read the book, but the audiobook is ah-mazing.

For starters - the book has five different narrators.  FIVE.  In all of the audiobooks I've listened to I've heard maybe two - max.

And these five different narrators aren't just narrating.  
They're acting.

Basically - I was convinced I was watching a play every day on my drive home.  
 The plot is addicting.
The characters are on point.  
The voices are suiting.

And the overall plot of this book (if you haven't seen the movie or read the book) of white privileged women will force you realize how prevalent the racial inequality was during that time.

I laughed.
I cried.
I'm sure my fellow commuters thought I was a lunatic.
But I couldn't get enough of Miss Skeeter's perseverance, Aibileen's sacrifices, and Celia's naivety.

If you've been scanning Audibles trying to find the next book to keep you occupied, do yourself a favor and download this gem.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Climbing Mount Saint Helens!

Guys.... I DID IT!!

I climbed Mount Saint Helens.

Hubs has been on a kick to do a climb (aka: something bigger than a hike).  Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens - he was on a kick.

Thanks to kidney stones, I've successfully evaded the past few weekends of climbing.  Then also thanks to Aaron's overtime, I was able to avoid Mt. Hood the weekend before last.

But this last weekend we didn't have anything.  I was hesitant to go on a Sunday b/c I knew I'd be exhausted for the remainder of the week (AND I AM!) but I took the plunge and we. did. it.

With a 3:00am alarm clock and on the road by 4:00am, we were able to have trekking poles in hand, backpacks on backs, just in time for go-time at 5:45am.

Yes, folks, on our luxurious Sunday morning we were hiking at 5:45am.  Don't be jealous - I have the bags under my eyes to prove sleep deprivation is a nasty thing.

But I digress.

We pushed on.  The first half of the climb was snow-less which I was thankful for.  While it was steep we kept a good pace and passed several of the larger groups.  Aaron brought his skis to ascend the snowy parts where I intended to boot pack it.

Boot packing was definitely the wiser decision - but we won't tell him.

Oh and did I mention - we were climbing on Mother's Day which means everyone wore DRESSES!  Aaron's stage name was Ginger Pop.  And he was a B-E-A-U-T. Not to mention - he wore his 20 pound work vest just to add an extra level of challenge. #CantKeepUp

After having read about the false summit, I thankfully was prepared (as others around me were NOT).  It was nevertheless any less discouraging slightly to reach the incredibly steep false summit just to continue on to the real summit.

Ginger Pop making her way up


After we summited and almost lost my jacket, my trekking poles, and Ginger Pop's wig we decided it was time to book it back down.  Hubs had skis and the few people who left before us all left on their butts.

That's right.  Slid down the mountain on their butts.

It's called glissading, and it's as terrifying as it sounds (when it's ice).

But when it's NOT ice - it's one of the most FUN things you'll ever do!!

Oh you know - just sliding down on my butt

Have you ever slid down the mountain on your bootay?!  I might be bruised on my entire backside, but it was worth it.

And on another note - I'm desperately looking to learn to edit photos.  If anyone has any suggestions/tools/resources I'd love to hear!

Happy FRIDAY!!

Monday, May 02, 2016

Annual Dog Mountain hike


...the hubs and I did our first hike up Dog Mountain.  I stopped at almost every switchback (which equates to a ton of stopping) and did a lot of huffing-and-puffing.

The hike was "sooooo steep" that I even lost both of my big toenails from the descent (and my toes jamming into the front of my shoes).


...I kicked Dog Mountain's butt on the way up.  You might remember from this post that I was incredibly proud of myself for the progress I'd made on my fitness.  While the ascent went swimmingly, the descent ended in severely spraining my ankle causing me problems all throughout summer.


...was third time the charm!  With Crossfit 3x per week and our hiking regimen, hikes like Dog Mountain seem like another walk in the park (a hard walk in the park, though, with lots of heavy breathing).

The wild flowers were in SERIOUS full bloom!  And with full bloom comes full crowds.

The hubs got off his10:00pm-8:00am shift, came home, and we booked it to the mountain.  He's such a trooper :-)  I was super proud of our early start and expected to have pick-of-the-litter for parking spots.


The trail head was a ZOO.  We had to park in the overflow parking which is AT LEAST an additional half mile away from the trail head.

But that's ok - because it's wild flower season and this girl was STOKED.

We brought primcess Polly who was a total champ until the last uphill stretch, and a majority of the downhill portion.  We passed a man with his pug in a front-body-carrier aaaaand I may or may not consider purchasing one for Polly.
Don't judge me - she's my babe.

And on that note - here are photos from this year's Dog Mountain hike!  We may or may not have had a mini-photoshoot of Polly in the flowers.  My sweet hubs is such a trooper.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Trekking Through Peru - Part 2 (the hike)

I've struggled with writing this post because our trek itself was incredibly bittersweet.

The trek was intended to be 3 days, 2 nights.
Day 2 happened to be my 29th birthday!

The forecast called for rain, rain, and more rain.  But the hubs and I were both prepared with our best hiking rain gear, and with our best attitudes.

We would hike to 15,862 feet elevation.  For those who aren't familiar with what that means, that means THIN air resulting in difficulty breathing.

I was a nervous wreck leading up to the Trek - I didn't want to be THAT person who fell behind and caused the group to take more breaks than needed.  I didn't want to be THAT person who struggled while everyone else had an easy time walking up the mountain.

Day 1

Day 1 started later than I would have anticipated.  I'm an early hiker.  I prefer to leave early and take my time, rather than leave later and feel rushed.

We got started at some hot springs.  While our amazing cooks prepared a trout lunch for us, some of our group swam in the springs.  While I LOVE springs, I was saving my hot-springing for Aguas Calientes which concluded our trek.  I've seen gorgeous pictures and couldn't WAIT to play in the hot springs at the end of the hike.

Day 1 was rainy.   Miserably rainy.  By the time we made it to our camp we were all cold, damp, and exhausted.  But nothing feels more amazing than arriving to camp to see tents already set up.  All we had to do was change our clothes and head to dinner that was being prepared for us - WIN!!

I learned really quickly that night that I under-packed.  Don't get me wrong - I prepared for rain up the wazoo.  But I did NOT prepare for the cold.

I should have red-flagged when Aaron crawled into bed and said, "I feel like crap.  And I'm cold."  Aaron doesn't get cold.  If you've ever driven in a car with him in the middle of freezing winter in Reno - you'll notice he has the windows down.  I think he secretly enjoys seeing his own breath.

Neither of us slept well.  I couldn't get warm, and Aaron was coughing all night which kept us both up.  He woke up and said he had gunk in his lungs.  He's always hacking nasty stuff up so I didn't think anything of it.

Bad Ashley.
The team preparing our bags

Children along the hike

Day 2

We started the day with the group singing me Happy Birthday - I was on cloud 9!  We were in gorgeous country side.  Had breakfast prepared for us.  And we were starting the hardest day of the 3-day Trek.  My spirits were at an all time HIGH!

We got started and Aaron kept coughing.  And coughing.  And coughing.

He started dragging behind.  HE became that person that we stop and took breaks for (note:  Aaron is usually the leader of the pack.  This should have been my red flag #2 that something was up).  Our guides tried to check his oxygen level but Aaron's fingers were too fat and wouldn't provide a good measure.

We moved on.  We should have turned back.

Aaron's condition got progressively worse.  The guides finally secured a donkey for Aaron to finish the day.  We still had about 7 more miles to go that day, and hadn't even begun the ascent up to the summit.

While Aaron was feeling like crap - I was on an all-time high.  It was a miserable hike.  By far the hardest hike I've ever done at the highest elevation I've ever done.  But I was chugging along just  fine and was staying with the front of the group.

Most of the time I was by myself singing "the ants go marching 1 by 1 hoorah... hoorah..."

After a grueling day, I made it to the top with three others!!  This was the highest high I've ever been on.  I'd done it after thinking several times that this was impossible.  there was no WAY I'd be able to keep going.
When will I ever make it?  
Where IS the top?  
Is anyone else having a hard time breathing too?  
Are we close?  

We waited for the rest of the group to arrive.  Aaron's donkey brought him to the top and he slid off and laid down, continuing to cough up gunk.  The guides put him on oxygen (THANK GOD!) which helped a little.  They made the determination there that he needed to be medically evacuated off the mountain.

Medical evacuation = donkey.

I decided I needed to go with him.  Unfortunately there was no easy way off the mountain, no rescue service, other than to finish the entire hike during day 2.

There would be no day 3 - we combined day 3 with day 2.

I remembered crying as we past by our campsite.  That's where the rest of our group would be eating hot dinner and sleeping peacefully in a canyon of mountains.  We pushed on.
Aaron on donkey.
And me by foot.

I secretly thought when they asked if I wanted to go with, that I too would get a donkey!  I mean - who in their right mind would combine day 2 and day 3 on FOOT?!  Don't they realize how exhausted I am?

But alas - I continued on, running behind the donkey trying to keep up so that we could hopefully make it to the ambulance before dark.

If this day has any indication of what my 29th year would be like, then I want a re-do!  

But Aaron was barely coherent and very clearly needed medical attention ASAP!

17 miles later we reached the spot where the ambulance was supposed to pick us up.  But alas- no ambulance.

So we kept moving.

2 miles later we found our saving grace - the ambulance!!  I may have cried then too I was so happy.  My knees were in horrible pain.  My energy level tanked.  I hadn't eaten since lunch - and it was now 9pm.
Good morning bowls of hot water!

Mor children - notice their shoes

This, my friends, should have been our turnaround point.

Gorgeous country

Aaron's savior

I told him, "Smile - it's my birthday."  This was all he could muster.

I made him pose at the summit - he was less than thrilled


We made it!  Waiting for the rest of the group.
Aaaand that's a wrap