Goal 145) Hike the Manitou Incline

From Wikipedia:

The base of the Incline sits at 6,600 feet and the trail climbs 2,000 feet in about 0.88 miles. Sections of the trail have exposed pipe from the days when the Incline was a hydroelectric utility system. Hiking the trail should not be undertaken by the physically unfit, as there is no vehicle access to the trail and anyone injured or suffering a medical emergency will have to walk or be carried down by other hikers.

This was a last minute decision.

I didn’t want to do it alone. I hate doing things alone.

I had just spent the last few days in Colorado Springs hanging out at the Garden of the Gods, climbing the red sandstone fin known as Montezuma’s Tower. That climb was easy physically but a bit nerve racking balancing on the edge of a rock that’s maybe a couple of feet wide with 100 foot drop on either side.

I was less intimidated doing that than I was by hiking straight up the side of a mountain. Aside from the fact that I’d be doing it alone, I had my doubts that I could even do it. I didn’t want to be the guy who quit 3/4 of the way to the top. At least if I didn’t do it, I could still claim I could. But if I tried and failed, well … I failed.

Fuckin’ ego.

It was down to the last minutes of the trip. Either I was going to do it or I wasn’t.

“It’s not even a mile.” I kept telling myself. Even if it was horrible, it would be over soon enough. I could tough it out for a mile.

I cranked my music and started hiking.

It didn’t take long before I realized just how difficult it would actually be. I thought I was in pretty good shape but I felt like my lungs were on fire. Maybe you’ve had the feeling before, where your heart hurts and your lungs burn. It’s shit.

But I kept on going until I reached the bailout point. I stopped to take a break, looking up, looking down and then looking at the trail to the bottom. Nope. I wasn’t going to quit. Not now. Even if I had to crawl the last 100 yards to the top, I would reach the top.

I might have crawled a little but I finally made it to the top. I sat there for a few minutes feeling satisfied with myself. There really isn’t a lot of glory in doing these kinds of things. Or, if there is, it isn’t long lasting. Which is okay. I’d done what I set out to do and I could go home with my pride in tact.

And now that I’ve done it once, I’ll probably do it every time I’m out that way. It just seems like the logical thing to do. I don’t have any rituals so maybe this is one I could start.


Goal #27) Get a Sphynx Kitten

I haven’t technically accomplished this goal … yet.

But I’m in the process. Actually, I’ve been in the process for years. Every once in a while I’d send an email to random breeders inquiring about the breed and whether or not they’d have any kittens available soon. Until recently, it never went beyond emails.

Again, like so many times before, I began searching for breeders and soon I found one that was somewhat local and had kittens available. Before I knew what I was doing I had sent them a down payment to secure a kitten for myself. I have a tendency to grab opportunities when they present themselves and sometimes I forget I now have someone else to consult with in these types of decisions. Marie was less than impressed by my decision to buy a kitten. What I thought would be a happy announcement turned out to be a huge disappointment to her.

I’d always had a cat when I was a child, so to me, having a kitten didn’t feel like a big deal. But for her, it was a decision that she felt should have been made by both of us. I still have a lot to learn about relationships I guess. I did my best to convince her that having a cat is not the same as having a baby. I’m not sure I did a very good job of it but she seemed to be less upset with me after a couple of days. Maybe she forgot about the kitten. I should remind her.

When we went to meet the kittens, the first thing that struck me about them was how friendly and playful they are. Most cats run and hide when strangers are around but not the Sphynx. Almost as soon as I sat down, one of them crawled up onto my shoulder and just sat there rubbing its face on my beard. I wasn’t quite expecting that but it’s what I want from a pet. We spent about an hour visiting with the kittens and talking with the breeder, who runs a small program with her family pets. It was important to me not to just find a kitten but to source them from a breeder who has concern for their animals and isn’t just doing it for the money. After visiting with them I knew I found the right place.

When Marie and I left we discussed the kittens and what she wanted. Since she didn’t have a say in whether or not we were going to get a kitten, I wanted her to at least be a part of which kitten we brought home. The one that I’d originally picked out was an all white kitten named Jasper. We both agreed that we liked the ones with darker coloration on their ears, nose and tail. I called the breeder and let them know that I would be giving up my kitten so I could have first pick of the next litter.

The next litter has finally been born and I just got the first pictures today of the kitten that they expect to have the coloration we want (Aslan.) Even though it looks pretty plain now, they don’t really start to show their color patterns for a few weeks. If he has the right colors, we’ll be keeping him and if not, we will wait for the next litter.

Pink Flamingos

Ad Nauseam

When I first read the review of my book on Amazon describing it as “cookie cutter” I took offense. It hurt my feelings.

At the time I was writing to help get myself through a point in life where I felt stuck and was desperate to escape. Those cookie cutter ideas were the words I needed to get through another day. It was what I longed to hear from someone else … only I didn’t have someone else. I had to be that someone.

I was the only person who could help me get through.

On the outside I projected an image of happiness and success, all the while on the inside I never felt happy or successful. I had no emotion. I wasn’t happy or sad. Just bored. Blank. Empty.

I was searching for something to fill the void.

I traveled the world. I jumped out of airplanes. I climbed mountains. But no matter where I went or what I did I could never escape the feeling of complete emptiness and disconnect. Nothing seemed to do anything to alleviate the problem. I felt like I had no purpose in my life. All of these things I had done and was doing felt meaningless.

So I wrote.

I wrote cookie cutter advice to myself and shared it with the world, hoping in my words that maybe I could be the voice someone else needed in their life. Maybe I could inspire other people who felt the same way I did. The lost. The hopeless.

I think most people go through a phase in life when they question their purpose in this world. “What the fuck am I doing here?”

I ran far and wide, doing everything I could to escape from the person I was … trying to be someone else. But everywhere I went, there I was.

So my writing and advice is “cookie cutter.” Maybe it was. Maybe it is. But I wasn’t writing for anyone but myself. It’s what I needed to hear at that time in my life. I needed those words just like some people need a joint after work. I needed to find a way to get through another day of my life. I needed to feel like I had something to work towards and some type of purpose.

I’m still not sure what the point of life actually is. We’re here. We spend all of our life trying to survive, only to die anyway. That brief glimpse of time between two eternities is all we get. No repeats. No second chances.

If we aren’t happy, we need to figure out how to be happy. I’m not saying happiness is the point of life.

But being happy sure as hell makes waiting to die a lot more enjoyable.