I Followed Up a Horribly Challenging Race with a 3-Hour Hike… On the Very Same Day!

November 2, 2017

As if competing the brutal Tram Road Challenge race wasn’t enough exercise for one day, my friend Jeff and I followed it up with an extraordinary hike. A hike that included this view!

In order to start the hike, we had to go for a ride…. up the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway. It’s the Read the rest of this entry »

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1/1/11

January 1, 2011

Feliz año nuevo y un próspero 2011!

Ayer fue mordido por un tiburón con dientes afilados. Eso no es cierto. Lo que realmente pasó fue que tiene un pequeño corte en la pierna de una roca bajo el agua.

Yesterday, five of us headed out to some cenotes, this sprawling underground river system that’s unique to this part of México.  There’s underground rivers everywhere, and, in places, there’s holes in the earth that provide access to them.  They look like flooded caves, and the Mayans thought they were sacred places, portals to the underworld.  They go on for miles and miles, cavern after cavern, with these amazing underwater rock formations and tunnels.  My sister Laura, who scuba dives, planned this entire trip because she wanted to scuba dive in cenotes, and the other 4 of us tagged along today and snorkeled.  Laura raved about the scuba dives she did, but I’ll leave the details for Laura to describe in her blog, which she doesn’t have, so why don’t you just go to her website (and, while you’re at it, why don’t you pass it along to all your family and friends that need to find and hire an architect).

First step:  Putting on a wetsuit.  I tugged and pulled and squeezed into mine, and immediately felt more like a superhero than I ever have before in my life.   Here’s me doing my best superhero pose:

It was very snug, but it really wasn’t uncomfortable, although I’d be annoyed if I had to wear something like this while climbing in and out of a Batmobile or fighting hoodlums.  The truth is, I’d be annoyed if I had to climb in and out of a Batmobile or fight hoodlums no matter what I was wearing – I’m sure the Batmobile, like Mazda Miatas, aren’t designed for 6’4″ occupants, and, well, I prefer running from confrontation.

My wetsuit was a size XL, and I’d venture to bet that a year ago, when I was 153 pounds heavier, I would be larger than the largest wetsuit they had.  And while you can snorkel without a wetsuit, there’d be no way in hell I would’ve worn just a swimsuit in front of anyone, including my sister.  Which means that this is an adventure I couldn’t and wouldn’t have taken.

I don’t have an underwater camera, so you’re not gonna see any fantastic underwater shots in this blog, but here’s a little taste of what the cenotes are like (photos taken by either me, Laura, or our friend Lisa):

That’s the entrance to a cenote.  The water is so clear and still that while it looks really shallow, you can basically jump into the water from the step at the end of the railing and not hit anything.  Within feet of the railing it’s 10 feet deep.  A few feet beyond that, it’s 40 feet deep.

We were at Chikin Ha cenotes, but this is a different one that we saw but didn’t snorkel in.  The vines are actually tree roots from the trees above, that penetrated the rocks on their quest for water.

This is me climbing out of that cenote – it literally looked like a big sinkhole (that they had cut steps into, for the tourists).

I’ve never snorkeled before, but thanks to my swimming background, took to it quickly.  It was beautiful.  While cenotes do have a few fish and a few turtles, the reason you go is for the jagged, stunning rock formations, and to swim in these caves where sunlight punches through the rock, providing shafts of light that illuminate everything underneath.  I found an arch about 12 or 14 feet underwater and challenged myself to dive down and swim through it, which I did, and that’s how I got the little cut I mentioned in Spanish at the top of this post.

One of my favorite moments was watching Laura and her diving partners descend into the cave.  There was four of them, and I floated above them as they sank deeper and deeper into the cenote, into the darkness, slowly disappearing from view, until there was only the beams of light from their flashlights dancing on the rocks around them, catching metallic glimpses of each others’ tanks, until the beams became only glowing dots as the darkness enveloped them, until the dots stopped dancing and vanished completely, and they were gone.

A little later, a different group of divers entered a cavern tunnel another way, directly beneath where I was snorkeling, which I realized when the rocks around me started simmering with their air bubbles – bubbles escaping around peaks and edges, fighting their way through piles of boulders.  As more divers swam through, the simmer turned into a full-blown boil, bubbles everywhere, surrounding me, bursting through hairline cracks and cascading around ledges, and after the divers passed, it stopped almost immediately, a return to stillness.

I found this YouTube video that gives you an idea of exactly how otherworldly and magnificent these cenotes are (the music is a little much, but I watched it on mute):

Later today I’m back on an airplane and heading back to Los Angeles.  First, though, I’m heading to the gym.  I bought a 5-day pass when I arrived here, and this is my 5th and final day.  Then, it’s adios, Playa Del Carmen, México!  I hope to come back after I get certified in scuba diving – maybe that’ll be a New Year’s Resolution!

Keep it up, David!


In Memory of Merrigold

November 5, 2010

In last night’s post, I mentioned that yesterday a friend needed some support.  It was my friend Jen, who had a really tough day – she had to put down her cat, Merrigold.  Merrigold was a great pet, and had a good, long life – she was 17, and, as Jen liked to point out, lived in more places than many people.  Jen got Merrigold when she was a freshman in high school in a small town in rural Michigan, and Merrigold has subsequently lived with Jen in Ann Arbor, Chicago, Los Angeles, back in Michigan, and then in Los Angeles once again.  Merrigold has had kidney problems for the past couple years, and over the past couple months has had some tough days, but has always bounced back.  At the beginning of this week, she stopped eating and drinking, and she wasn’t bouncing back.  Jen knew it was time.

I picked Jen and Merrigold up in the afternoon and took them to the vet.  I had never been present before during an animal euthanization, and was surprised at how quickly it all happened.  The vet shaved a patch of fur on Merrigold’s leg, gave her an injection of anesthesia, and within seconds it was over.  Merrigold was calm throughout the whole thing, and passed very peacefully.

I invited Jen to spent last night at my place, so she didn’t have to go home to an empty apartment, which she took me up on.  And because I had a houseguest, I thought I’d cook us a real dinner, using my stove (as opposed to the RediSetGo).  Here’s how I put together our turkey fajita-esque wraps:

1) I sauteed 3 cloves of garlic, 1 onion, 1 green pepper, and 1 anaheim chile (a mild chile pepper) in a little Pam spray:

2) They went into a bowl, and in the same skillet I browned 1 pound of lean ground turkey, adding adobo spices, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and garlic powder:

When the turkey was cooked, I added back in the veggies:

Meanwhile, in another bowl, Jen prepped the black bean and corn salsa.  1 can corn, 1 can black beans (both rinsed and drained), and she added 1 chopped up roma tomato, about 1/3 of a cucumber, 3 or 4 radishes, 2 scallions, and the juice of 1 lime.  Very colorful!

Right before we ate, I warmed up some whole wheat tortillas by placing them directly on my gas stove for a few seconds.  The stove is barely on, which is why you can’t really see the flame, but it’s there – I didn’t want to burn the tortillas, just make them soft and pliable:

I also got out the Queso Fresco that I had picked up at Vallarta yesterday.  This was the first time I’ve bought it, but I’ve heard it was good – mainly from the talking heads on the Food Network.  I got about 4 oz at the service deli at Vallarta, which cost me 98 cents:

Queso Fresco (which literally translates to Fresh Cheese) is a very mild, soft Mexican cheese that crumbles well.  It reminds me of feta.  And it’s really good for you, as cheeses go – 1 ounce is about 42 calories and less than 2.5 grams of fat.

To assemble, I put some turkey and veggies on a tortilla, topped with the black bean and corn salsa, a little of the cheese, and some chopped cilantro:

Delicious!  I had two.  So did Jen.  And I had two more today for lunch.  Now I’m out of tortillas.

After dinner, Jen and I went to the K-Mart down the street from my place for a little photo shoot.  Of me.  It’s a very cool photo that I’m going to share this weekend – so be sure to come back for that!  And, no, it’s not from the Olan Mills portrait studio… It’s just me in a very particular aisle.

Keep it up, David!