Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mid-Term Break Relief!

     Hello everyone! Yes I am alive, well, and still here. Not only am I back at Union College this year but I'm also in the honors program now, and am going to be playing in the school production of "Fiddler on the Roof" so this semester had left me with little time to even breathe. Fortunately I have a small reprieve this weekend. This week was mid-terms week, but it ended Thursday and I had Friday off, which has made this a glorious 3 day weekend. =) So I had plenty of time to catch everyone up on what has been happening over these past couple of months.

     My Ecology class this semester has been a blast! The first weekend of school was spent on a class field trip with said Ecology class to Estes Park in Colorado. The point of the trip was to study the how the changes in climate and temperature effected the species and variety of vegetation found in the environment. This meant I got to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, and go hiking on Sabbath (Saturday). I am now completely in love with hiking, and hope to visit Colorado again soon to do just that.

A Marmot

Pawnee Pass - Elevation 12,550 ft.
Not all of my ecology class hiked this trail, 
some stayed down at Lake Isabella to explore the glaciers.
From left to right: Me, Ellen, Dr. Abbey (my professor), and Dalton.

A White-Tailed Ptarmigan 
(their feather turn white after it begins to snow regularly of camouflage).


Got to try out my new KSO Vibrams, and the work really well for hiking. 

I'm on top of the world! 

Lake Isabella 

Chasm Falls

Brought my lunch with me on trip: grapes + tangelos + plums = yum!

A Clark's Nutcracker Bird

     Over Memorial Day weekend I got to spend my time earning some extra cash by working for a local farmer in his organic blueberry farm! I got payed two days out in the sun while also getting lots of fresh air and exercise. What wasn't to love? (They pay was pretty good too. LOL).

Blueberry Bushes


He also keeps a few cows in the fields 
not being used to grow anything.

Some sort of fruit tree. Looks sort of like a Pomelo.

He has his own organically grown 
private orchard and garden as well.

And no farm would be complete without goats. =)

     This year I also got to participate in Project Impact! Every September Union College takes the second Thursday off from all classes in order to allow students to participate Project Impact. This event that started here at Union 30 years ago in which students and faculty alike volunteer (in partnership with various charities and organizations) at numerous locations around Lincoln doing what they can to help the community (e.g. house repair, cleaning and fixing old bikes, constructing a new play set for the elementary school, yard work for the elderly and the home for battered women and children, painting the work rooms of local businesses, soup kitchens, etc.). I spent my 3 hours of volunteer time painting the printing room in Christian Records Services where they print story book that are written in both brail and regular writing. This is so I blind parent can read to their child, or a seeing parent can read to their child while they follow along, and so on and so forth. I had a lot of fun helping the community, meeting new people, and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.

     I've also had the opportunity to run another race; my first race to ever be run outside of Georgia. I had signed up to run the Omaha Marathon (yes a full marathon, not a half-marathon). However, I made the mistake of not considering how changes in state meant changes in temperature and humidity. On the morning of the race the temperature was 40°F with low humidity. 
     This was very VERY bad news for someone like me who had only ever trained for this race in the hot, warm, and humid weather of Georgia's spring and summer weather. Needless to say my body did not react well at all. I couldn't seem to warm up, even after I had started running. As a result the muscles in my legs and ankles started cramping up, and by the time I had reached mile 12 I was in some serious pain. When it came time for the ahl-marathon and marathon tracks to split up I had two choices: I could continue on the marathon track and risk injury, or I could suck up my pride and take the other track and finish another half-marathon instead. It was really hard for me, but I finished the half-marathon and spent the next hour having my muscles iced and rehydrating before heading out. 

     This race was a humbling experience for me. It made me realize that just because you train hard and eat well it doesn't mean that you're invincible. When school started I still had a whole month to train for the marathon, but I was stupid and didn't consider that I needed to run during the cooler hours of the day so that my body could acclimate to the new environment. Instead, I chose to run during the heat of the day because that is what I was accustomed to the temperature. 

     Fortunately I will have another chance to run a full marathon. This spring is the Lincoln Marathon, and in Nebraska spring mornings can still be quite chilly. I have all winter to train for this event, and I plan on running outside in the cold whenever I can so that when spring roles around I will be well acclimated and I can kick some running butt! LOL. In the mean time I will also be training run the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon when I go home for Thanksgiving Break. I ran it last year and I'm determined to make this race to be the one where finish in less than two hours. I will defeat that courses evil hills!

More pictures will be coming in as soon 
as my photo download order is processed.

     And now for the fun food update. With my busy schedule this year I haven't been able to drive up to Omaha very often to visit Whole Food, but I have been able to buy fruit from Jourdan's Beautiful Foods and some scrumptious dates from the Bautista Family. I've also been able to find some pretty good local places that have met my dietary needs: Trader Joe's, Super Savers, and the Open Harvest Market. 

     Trader Joe's Has a really nice selection of Organic produce as well as a good selection of california peaches and nectarines. Super Savers is just I giant discount food store, and a lot of their produce isn't that good; however, they do have a fantastic selection of bananas, grapes, cherries, pineapple, black mission figs, and cherry tomatoes for really good prices. And the Open Harvest Market is a quaint health store, deli, and co-op that sells amazing local fruits and vegetables (local food is always a + in my diet).

     With this wide array of food sources I have been able to keep my self well stocked in the food department. The only downside on living in this area is that I am currently unable to buy fruit in bulk (unless I buy online) which has caused my food bill to be double what it was in Georgia. Hopefully I can find some way to rectify this, or at least get some more income to balance it out, but for now I've been managing to keep my food bill at reasonable level considering the area I'm in and the prices of good fruit.

Some of My College Culinary Creations:

     Now schools back in full swing. I wish break had lasted sooner, but all good things come to an end. I am looking forward to the Steven Curtis Chapman concert my friend Jamie and I are attending this Friday. It's sure to be a blast! I just have to get through three more days of class and I'm home free. =)

     Until next time!

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