Farewells Are In Order

Well, here’s the deal.

I have a big girl website now, and it means I have a fancier place to put my little stories. that being said, if you’d like to continue my my little blog adventure I would like you to read my new blog, View From My Window. You can find it on the new site.

I know what you’re thinking, “Well that’s annoying…I’ve got to start going to a different site now just to hear Angela complaining about why people use raisins in baked goods. Is it even worth it?”

And my answer is yes! Of course it’s worth it! How much easier it is now that everything is all in one convenient place. You will find my artwork, my artist statement, and my blog right there, only a click away.

And lets be real, you like to hear my complaining. Otherwise, why are you reading this?

Alright, what are you waiting for!

Yours,

Angela

 

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Into the Sunshine

I’m sitting in my apartment on my cozy blue couch, listening to Into the Sunshine, by Julia Nunes. My cat is on the windowsill of the one open window peering out at the trees. The birds have returned and she is intent on knowing exactly where they are and what they are doing at all times.

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I’m pleased there is finally humidity again; spring is on its way in. And while I always insist I hate the month of March (it’s basically “weather roulette” month), I love that the world around me is changing again.

With that change comes new projects and new challenges as well. It can be difficult to start something new after working for so long on one thing, but I knew I needed to keep going after painting Windswept. The large Australian Landscape I was working on for the past 6 months.

After realizing how few of the medium I actually have to show in my portfolio, I’ve started two new oil paintings; both are set in Indianapolis. I always want to paint my city because it’s a wonderful place, but it seems like I get pulled away to some of the awesome landscapes I’ve visited.

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Indianapolis’ Old Northside

It seems like I forget that not only is Indianapolis fun, its also very beautiful if you’ve got your eyes open. It’s not “India-noplace” as some presidential candidates my have suggested in their emails….

Its interesting. At this point Visit Indy should pay me as a freelance promoter of this place. Everywhere I go, I’m talking about how wonderful and beautiful Indianapolis is. When I was sitting for dinner along the Gold Coast with some of my tourism contacts over there, I couldn’t help myself raving about our awesome Cultural Trail and White River State Park.

I eat sleep and breathe Indy. Not because it’s my hometown, but because it’s legitimately a nice place to live and visit. Naturally, you’d think all of this passion would translate in to hundreds of works of art but for some reason, it isn’t something that happens very frequently.

Well I’m changing that. This month I’ve started this little 16×20 of East Street in Indianapolis.

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I’m painting it with a limited palette, a new challenge I set for myself. The only colors I’m using are: Titanium White, Ivory Black, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Light, and French Ultramarine.

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So far I’m pleased with the progress. I wanted this painting to be loose and quick. I did not set up a grid, I did now draw it on ahead of time. I just went to town with my paintbrush and I’d say It’s looking good.

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The other one I’ve started is a bit larger. It’s based on an evening I spent with two friends this summer in Fountain Square. I’ve approached it a bit differently. This one I took a lot of time mapping out onto the canvas before painting. Then I spent one evening laying out a base painting/wash of acrylic to get an idea for where I wanted to put my lights and darks.

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Yes, I need to repaint my toenails. It’s been winter people. I got lazy.

I want to complete my little city scene first before I start laying on the real paint for the portraits. If the limited palette works well, I may employ the technique on the larger piece.

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So that’s my art update. Otherwise, I’m building a website and it’s ALMOST READY! That being said, I will probably move my blog over to that website in the future, so be prepared.

Oh yeah, personal life stuff. Well, last weekend I was sick, and went to a wedding in Nashville TN. Despite my feeling unwell, it was still fun to be around my friends, especially when they’re all dressed up.

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Along the same lines of being ill, I wasn’t able to run much. Which is just killing me. I’m so scared I’m not going to be able to run the Indy Mini Marathon in May. I tried to push myself on Thursday of this week, once I was feeling completely better, but I’m not as far a long in my training as I’d like.

I’ll still do the run. I would just prefer to enjoy myself while I do it.

Otherwise, Not much else has changed. Sundays are my days to get things accomplished. So I must away for laundry, church, taxes, groceries, and endless cleaning.

Until next time!

 

Love,

Angela

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Hanging In There

Here come the excuses. I’m too tired from work. I’m burnt out creatively. I’m sore from all of this exercise. I don’t have time will all of my after work responsibilities. I’ve been sick.

I could pull out a number of reasons why I haven’t written in a while, but I’ll spare you any more. Needless to say, I’ve just been stretched pretty thin.

The good news is, I’m making baby steps towards better fitness and soon my very own website! I’ve had some photos taken by a friend Clay Lomneth who has some pretty amazing images.

Since my last posting I have successfully completed two lovely works of art. I started, finished, and had framed a gorgeous selfie.

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I needed a break from my large landscape. I’m glad I took that break, because It was exactly what I needed to finish the piece.

Windswept Pretty! I’m glad to have it finished and I’ve already started on my next painting. You’ll just have to wait and see how it comes along.

I am also pleased to tell you all that my running has improved. Last weekend I competed in a 4 mile race and made great time. I’m feeling stronger and stronger, and I hope I’ll be able to complete the Indy Mini-Marathon in May.

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Although, I have my own doubts. This week was crazy for me. legitimately. I had to go home sick from work on Friday and slept all day and all night. Alas, I’m off to Nashville, TN for a wedding. I would love to be funny and all that, but my parents are going to be pretty angry if I keep them waiting. So long!

Until Next time!

Yours,

Angela M. DeCamp

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Help, I’m Exhausted and Freezing

A new week begins and it feels like time is just soaring by. This time last year, I was anticipating my trip to Nepal. Now, I’m anticipating a trip to the dentist.

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I could never have predicted all of the twists and turns my life would take in the following year. I’m always impressed by all of the different events, big and small, that get crammed into one short set of 365 days…

…And then there are some weeks that feel like they take an entire year for me to claw slowly through; this was one of those weeks. It was full of experiences. Wonderful, awful, exhausting experiences. Okay, okay, you’ve twisted my arm. I’ll tell you about one bad thing and one good thing. Pipe down now.

THE BAD: I’m not sure if you’re aware but January in Indiana is COLD. It’s, “North of the Wall,” style chilling. At least that’s what it feels like when I walk outside and my lips stop being able to pronounce words because the temperature has caused them to go numb.

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Alas, my vehicle can’t seem to handle this kind of weather either. Much like my lips, my poor old Buick tries to do it’s job, but ends up shuddering, sputtering, and proving itself to be incapable of operating properly in these relatively extreme conditions. I found out last weekend that the heat had once again ceased to exist, leaving me looking a little like this every time I needed to leave my apartment or the office…

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Not wanting to get frostbite, I took the freezer-on-wheels to my trusty repairman and a few short hours later it was defrosted…for painful $400 bucks. I went home, ate a frozen pizza, a pint of ice cream, and watched Bridget Jones’ Diary to console my wounded bank account.

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Admittedly, I don’t have any car payments, so I should just shut my pie-hole. Alas, I know I sound like a whiney, privileged white girl with this one…and the truth is you’re absolutely right. But every time I have to pay to have my car fixed it comes out of my budget to get a new car. Call me a dreamer, but I’d really like to have a car of my own choosing sometime within the next 25 years.

THE GOOD: Okay, So this past Saturday I was in a crappy mood. Some days you just wake up in a funk (not the awesome uptown funk kind of funk either). I was lethargic. I peeled myself out of bed, made coffee and comfort food, only to make a little nest on my blue couch until the early afternoon.

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It didn’t help that I decided to watch “Cold Mountain” for the first time as I wrote in my journal. Spoiler Alert: It is not a feel good movie. Lots of people die. Lots of people you love die.

After watching this film, my mind wanted me to get up and do something but my limbs wouldn’t respond. I just stayed on the couch looking up buzzfeed articles and finding reasons not to move. I wondered how long it would take before my skin began to fuse to the fibers of my sofa. Would I still be able to reach the thermostat on the wall? How far away was my phone charger, in case I needed to call for emergency assistance or indian food?

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Luckily, a good friend came over to chat and grab coffee, and unknowingly save me from myself. We walked along mass ave but as we were strolling down the street and things were starting to look up, I found out some pretty depressing news that a friend from college had passed away. This only furthered my sour mood.

Somehow, fate did not want me to end the day in a crappy mood. I’d agreed to teach a class at Mimosa and a Masterpiece. I was really worried I was going to be a terrible art teacher. You know, teaching is more than just telling someone how to do something. You’ve got to try to have a good attitude or it’s misery for everyone involved. Worst of all, it required patience and self-control…these were qualities I wasn’t sure I had much left of in my toolbox.

Thankfully, I taught some very positive strong women who encouraged me. It allowed me to realize that somedays are hard, but at the end of the day I can let other people’s joy rub off on me.

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Apologies people. I did not work on my big painting at all. Bad Angela! Bad! I’m certain this played into my emotional exhaustion. I just can’t ignore my creativity without there being repercussions. Either way I promise you, I’ll do some serious painting this week. Actually, if you don’t see a blog post with noticeable painting updates…do me a favor and send me angry emojis.

Don’t tell my workout buddy but I’m going to focus more on my art this week, and get back to the exercise when she’s back from her fancy-pants cruise next week.

That said, I’m so ready for this week! I’m ready to work hard at what I want!

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What are you doing this week?

Love,

Angela M. DeCamp

P.S. Love this photo of me and my sis!

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A Week of Progress

Howdy Ya’ll,

Check out the view from my window this morning! SNOW. I can’t decide if I’m pro-snow or anti-snow, but it sure is pretty.

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It’s been a relatively transformative week. I’ve already begun my half-marathon training and lost weight. Which means I’ve been sore, tired, hungry, and generally irritable. It’s always exhausting the first week I begin training for anything but I know it’s worth being exhausted over.  The good news is: I’m past the completely wiped out/cold sore-gaining stage, and onto the excess energy stage! Huzzah!

Dear Coffee, please make me not-sleepy anymore. Love, Angela

Dear Coffee, please make me not-sleepy anymore. Love, Angela

How am I doing this you ask? Well, my friend Stevie sent me this colorful training chart. One week down, 16 more to go! I’ve been lucky that I have my friend Devon to workout with.

And we're running outside in the cold, so we're super hardcore.

And we’re running outside in the cold, so we’re super hardcore.

She keeps me accountable, and gives me meal tips. It’s probably safe to say, I wouldn’t be doing this without her.

The week before last, my awesome company gave us a week off of work for the holidays. How stellar! But it also meant a lot of catching-up once we returned. I was anxious about starting back and tackling what I imagined to be a huge amount of maintenance requests, rental applications, and general “office-y” things. The horror!

 However, our whole team pushed through and by the end of the week, we were laughing while taking goofy marketing photos on our brand new office chairs.

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It’s also been a good week for creating artwork. As many of you know I’ve been painting a large, 3ft x 4ft landscape of Australia. It’s based off of a photo I took around this time last year near Coffs Harbour (Yes, I spelled this the Aussie way). This project has been relaxing for me and I’ve been taking my time on it. Usually I crank out paintings left and right but this painting has me slowing down a bit.

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What you may not know is that landscape oil paintings have not always been my strong suit. In university, I usually steered away from them, as it seemed like I always made them look high chroma to the point that they came out completely unrealistic.

My recent fear upon starting this piece is that it would look too…“cartoon-y,” (Gasp! No!) and the fact that this one doesn’t look that way yet, is encouraging. This is possibly why I’m painting it at a glacial pace. I want to prolong my happiness with it, make sure it doesn’t turn into a colorful mess, and I want to be absolutely certain I remember how I avoided the mistakes that usually turn my paintings into crap.

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That being said, I’m super excited about this…a landscape. So much so, that I’m considering painting more travel-inspired landscapes in the future. I’ve already purchased another canvas. It only makes sense, don’t you think?

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It’s worth adding in here that I’m a firm believer in the idea that the best things in life are often the most difficult to get to (Which is why I’m 97% certain I deserve to date a contemporary-handsome-hipster-Mr. Darcy…just saying, I’ve been through the wringer).

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Challenging myself to paint a subject that I’m unfamiliar with has only strengthened my belief in this theory. What is it Vincent van Gogh said?

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And now, its a new week with new challenges. New unexpected expenditures. New conflicts. But also, new solutions and new reasons for laughter.

Sorry guys, I planned on being funny in this post. In lieu of my usual humor I’ll leave you with a photo of my cat. Meow.

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Yours,

Angela M. DeCamp

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Resolutions for the New Year

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I know. I’ve been MIA living my life back at home in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s been crazy. I’ve worked as a server, and now as a leasing agent and a painting instructor simultaneously!

In July at Café Patachou

In July at Café Patachou

I have my own downtown apartment now.

I live here!

I live here!

My apartment! "totes adorbs!"

My apartment! “totes adorbs!”

Also I got a cat, which is terrifying if you know me well because it means I won’t be able to just fly overseas whenever I fancy a jaunt. I’ve got a mouth to feed!

My New cat, Athena.

My New cat, Athena (disregard pile of clothes in background).

I didn’t even get to tell you about my awesome mural painting experience in Tasmania last March, which now seems like a long time ago.

Mural in Sheffield, Tasmania.

Mural in Sheffield, Tasmania.

However, now is a time for new beginnings. So, I guess I’ll give this blog-writing another go…

For many years now I’ve been writing down a list of New Year’s Resolutions. I guess that makes me a pretty average person but I write them none the less. I am going to go ahead and post them here and now so I can have you wonderful people around to hold me accountable (pretty please).

ANGELA’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS…this is my actual list.

  1. (Obviously) Will lose 20 lbs. iOC7Sj
  2. Run a half-marathon (I have already signed up for the Indy mini-marathon).
  3. Sell at least three more paintings or illustrations this year.
  4. Show my art publicly at least once, preferably more than that.
  5. Get a legitimate website!
  6. Leave the country, even briefly (UPDATE: bought a plain ticket to go to London in May).
  7. Be more proactive about prepping & cooking healthy meals.
  8. Drink less alcohol (this kind of goes along with the losing weight thing). tumblr_nj0zkhz12j1rojzw8o1_500
  9. Save $2000 for a car and $1000 for travel (at least).
  10. Have more real spiritual moments
  11. Finish all available books of A Song of Ice and Fire
  12. Read a lot of other books & keep track of them!
  13. Paint at least one day per week…ideally much more than that.
  14. WORKOUT REGULARLY-I’ve already printed a 16 week training schedule.
  15. Be BOLD in relationships.
  16. Be careful not to lead people on…especially nice people.
  17. Pray more
  18. Learn a new skill (any suggestions?).
  19. Be more consistent with writing your blog…or creating vlogs.
  20. Give more freely and generously
  21. Actively support Bernie Sanders: Create a plan of action for if Trump gets elected (i.e. sell cat to your sister and emigrate to New Zealand).
  22. Forgive.

I like to make long lists, because then it isn’t extremely disappointing if I don’t achieve some of them. Most likely, I will look back this time next year and be proud of everything I was able to accomplish.

Here’s to new beginnings!

Happy 2016 From the girls!

Happy 2016 from the girls!

I’ll leave this here for now! More later.

Yours,

Angela DeCamp

New Hair. New Year. New me.

New Hair. New Year. New me.

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Tasmania Part 2: Do Not Cross The Spikey Bridge

I’d been traveling with Heather for a few days, eating cans of beans and tuna with stale bread, and loving every minute of it.

Day 2 Route.

Day 2 Route.

We woke up, and prepared to spend our day in Freycinet National Park (We asked multiple people how to pronounce that name, still unsure). This is one of the most highly praised national parks in Australia, so we were pretty excited. Plus! We couldn’t wait to see the world renown Wine Glass Bay!

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We took a nice long hike, but both of us keep a pretty fast pace, so we finished the “4 hour” hike in about 2 hours, even taking time to look at the impressive landscapes.

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Wine Glass Bay was lovely, as you might expect.

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There was a narrow strip of land between the bay and the other side of the peninsula. We were both surprised at how different it looked on the other side.

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The water was choppy and the sand was a rusty brown. We let the wind whip our hair around as we walked along this beach.

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We found a nice spot to eat lunch in the bush, and spotted a few snakes (no photos of the snakes, unfortunately)!

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The good news is, when we finished the big hike, there were many other great options of side-hikes to choose from.

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By the late afternoon we were tired, and ready to find some food/shelter.

Day 3

Day 3

We left the park and drove into Swansea, where we found some fish and chips. Thankfully, Heather educated me on how to enjoy this tasty meal; the key is the vinegar.

Then we talked ourselves into getting some overpriced gelato (come on, we deserved it) before looking for a place to sleep.

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How do you pronounce this?!?

We thought about parking in front of this track that night, but there were no nearby toilets and I was feeling wimpy so I convinced Heather into letting us stay at the VERY overpriced hostel nearby.

Actually, that was the theme of Swansea: TOO EXPENSIVE. In fact, I believe it was at this place that we agreed Tasmania is the “New Zealand for rich retirees.”

There just weren’t very many affordable activities for budget travelers. It was all expensive wines, kitch souvenirs, and luxury accommodations for the elderly. Not enough free camping, and affordable adventure-ey activities. At least, not up to that point…

Trying to be "spikey" at Spikey Bridge.

Trying to be “spikey” at Spikey Bridge.

The next morning, we began driving south towards Hobart! We found this jewel of east Tasmania, The Spikey Bridge. It was some important bridge in the olden days. There was a whole story about some rich old guy that the locals manipulated into finally building them this spike-tastic bridge, but mostly what I remember is my own embarrassment.

Naturally, I tried to be cool, so I drove past the other tourists (parked politely next to the bridge), and I crossed it like a boss.

Loooosers! A bridge is for crossing. Out of my way boring people!

Dead End.

So, we crossed the bridge (we obviously weren’t supposed to drive over), and had to turn around to rejoin the rest of the tourists. Minor embarrassment, but it’s what stuck with me about this silly roadside attraction.

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Lunch break.

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I fell in love with these little tuna in olive oil cans. SO GOOD, and so easy to travel with in the personal size. Plus they have all different flavors! You can imagine how heart broken I now am without this brand in the US. No one likes Tuna in water, America. NO ONE. I digress…

From Swansea to Richmond.

From Swansea to Richmond.

We made it into the town of Richmond, a highly recommended tourist location just outside of Hobart. There were lots of little shops with everything from local art to scented soaps, to handmade lace. My favorite was a huge old building full of Christmas decorations, but they pretty much threatened your life if they saw you take any photos.

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Richmond is pretty famous for this bridge. We took a little nap on the dock here while little kids fed the ducks. Looking back, it was pretty strange for a couple of adults to sleep on a wooden platform in a public park. Kind of homeless actually… #yolo

Finally it was time for us to go into HOBART!

Destination Day 4

Destination Day 4

We drove into town. Filled up our water bottles, and found a place to sleep on the side of the road. In the morning we woke up, peed in the trees, and got pumped for a day of fun…possibly my favorite day of the whole trip!

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I grabbed a flat white (oh, how I miss these). Then Heather and I walked to a bike rental place.

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We decided to rent a couple of bikes to:

  1. See the city quickly.
  2. Have an adventure.
  3. look awesome in helmets.

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First we hit up the famous Salamanca Market where we listened to bagpipes and Heather found a fun book!

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The Market was charming. I kept wanting to buy things, and had to keep telling myself to collect the experience instead. And let me tell you, If experiences weighed anything, that day would have definitely given me some extra airline fees (not that it’s hard these days *rolls eyes*).

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After touring the market we began our cycling adventure to the notorious MoNa gallery! I was giddy! I couldn’t wait to be “shocked.”

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My favorite exhibit at the MoNa was, of course, the Cloaca Professional…aka “The Poop Machine.”

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Yeah, this dude made a machine to simulate the digestive system. It is fed actual food from the cafand, get this, it really poops. IT POOPS.

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And it stinks, like real poop. I would be disgusted, but it was so interesting I forgot to be. So cool.

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Other than random sculptures of genitals on the walls, I didn’t find the MoNa to be as “shocking” as I was warned it would be; I thought it was lovely.

It didn’t hurt that they had a trampoline outside that you, as a dignified adult, were encouraged to enjoy.

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The day ended the best way it could…

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…with pastries.

But if you give a mouse a cookie….

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…That mouse is going to find a really cool Irish pub to visit for a beer and some live music.

We stayed in our same “camp spot” that night. I was actually starting to get a decent night’s sleep in the car.

The next morning was a little sad, because I was leaving Heather to go meet my friends in Mole Creek. First, however we had to make it to the top of Mount Wellington!

I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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I loved Hobart. It had the fun and affordability I was missing from the rest of the East Coast of Tasmania.

Nice street art too.

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Oh, and they did that cool, “slide thing,” that always pops up as an advertisement on my Facebook page. Too cold for me, but you know, fun to watch.

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Yeah. Hobart was great. Heather was a lovely friend, and great traveling companion. Beer is still tasty. Australians are still laid back. Life is still good.

It was a solid end to a great road trip. It was hard to say goodbye. I think the most difficult part was knowing it might be a long time before I meet Heather again.

Having international friends is great and terrible. It’s great to celebrate our differences while appreciating our similarities. Unfortunately, right when you start actually being friends, someone inevitably has to leave to go very far away. This time, that person was me.

Next would begin my trip up to Mole Creek & Sheffield to paint a mural! The last week of my incredibly 8 months abroad.

Love!

Ange

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Tasmania Part 1: A Spontaneous Journey and Unexpected Companionship

It was nearing the end of my time in Australia…and I was compelled to do something a little spontaneous.

I knew my last week in Australia would be spent painting a mural in Sheffield, Tasmania. Then it struck me, I won’t have much time to see Tasmania if I spent the whole time painting! 

I instantly booked an earlier flight, and left the next day.

My First Rental Car!

My First Rental Car!

In reality, I was equally excited and uneasy about this solo jaunt. So far, I had never actually been “on my own,” solo-traveling.

In Nepal, I had Dr. Upadhayaya and Suman. In Tasmania, I knew I had a couple of contacts, but…I found out fairly quickly, that my cell provider had ZERO coverage in Tassie.

So, I showed up at the Launceston Airport, with no cell service, no map, and a vague idea of where I’d be staying that night. I spent the next several hours searching for a road map (surprisingly hard to find/expensive these days) and buying snacks from Coles.

Thankfully some friendly Kmart workers pointed me in the direction of my hostel.

SIDE NOTE: Kmart in Australia is AMAZING. It is like Target with Walmart prices. No joke. All of my clothes came from Kmart when I was in OZ. It might be the #1 thing I miss.

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I stayed at a place called the “Art House” which appeared to be an old Victorian home updated for budget nomads like me. I loved it. It was my first hostel experience alone, and I can’t praise it enough.

I’d haphazardly booked it online from the Sydney Airport, just hours before my flight to Tasmania. I didn’t read reviews. It just looked cool, and had “Art” in the name.

I’m so glad I stayed here.

View from the Hostel

View from the Hostel

I didn’t have any plans to speak of, just the fourth Song of Ice and Fire book on my kindle. I sat on my bed and read for a while.

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That’s when I met Heather. We realized that we’d been on the same flight from Sydney, and that neither of us had any plans. We cracked up watching Hot Fuzz in the common room, then decided the next day, to hike “Cataract Gorge,” and explore Launceston together.

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IMG_6773It was a clear day, perfect for seeing all of Tasmania’s natural beauty.

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Art on an old pump house.

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It was on this hike I saw my first Echidna!

SO CUTE!

SO CUTE!

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I must say, Heather and I saw a lot of wildlife on this walk.

IMG_6799The best part was having a female friend to experience it all with. Back on the mainland, I was getting kind of lonely, missing having a real friend that I could talk to. Heather was exactly what the doctor ordered; a great listener and one of the most interesting people I’ve met to date.

Originally from Leeds (A city in West Yorkshire, England), She’d been in Australia on a working holiday visa for a year and a half. We had such a good time together that we decided to take a week long road trip to………anywhere.

My only stipulation was that I had to make it to Hobart to see the controversial MoNa (Museum of Old and New Art).

We left in my rental car the next morning.

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With no set plans, nor a place to sleep, we hit the road and headed east, towards the world famous Bay of Fires, stopping at any roadside attraction we could find. Including tree sculptures dedicated to the ANZACS.

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And also some stunning lookouts.

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We found some art/coffee shops (at my insistence) and put pegs on a map of the world. I was pleased to be the first known person from Indianapolis to visit.

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After a few hours of driving, we both needed some time to stretch our legs. So we parked the car and crossed over to a platypus habitat. I was eager to find some of these little guys!

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Unfortunately, we didn’t spy any animals, but we did get to chat, and enjoy Tasmania’s natural beauty (something we did a lot of in the following days).

The goal was to make it to the Bay of Fires by nightfall. We did it, and it was gorgeous.

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Let me take this moment to describe the water along the east coast of Tasmania to you. It is crystal clear, freezing cold, glassy water. I think it is the only ocean water I’ve seen that doesn’t look like it should be salty at all. It looked like liters and liters of spring water. I know it had to be salty, but wow.

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I mean FOR REAL.

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Heather and I explored the place.

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We ended up sitting on top of these lichen covered rocks for a couple of hours, talking about everything from our enduring love of Colin Firth in “Pride & Prejudice” (the GOOD ONE), to folk dancing, to how the War of Roses created a lasting, albeit less violent, rivalry in England.

After a supper of cold beans, we slept in the car. Parked as close to the to the beach as possible.

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Day One.

Day One.

Having made it to the east coast, the next morning, we started south. Taking a few unscheduled detours/hikes along the way.

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And made a stop at Bicheno on our way to Freycinet National Park. Bicheno, we discovered was once used as a major whaling location in Tasmania.

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My favorite jaunt in Bicheno was to Diamond Island. During low tide, the island is surrounded by water, shallow enough to slosh through.

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We walked out to it and marveled at how the surface of the water mirrored the blue sky above.

This is the sand, NOT the sky.

This is the sand, NOT the sky.

I felt very adventurous swishing through he low tide, walking through places I couldn’t have dreamt up.

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Heather and I climbed up on top of the highest point. I was glad she was there to tell me where to put my feet; I’m not the most agile. Speaking of feet, I can’t remember a time in my life spent barefoot as much as the time I spent with Heather, and let me tell you…it was freeing. Everyone should try being barefoot outside.

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That night we made it to Cole’s Bay, where we stayed in a little cottage, and drank delicious cider at a local pub.

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I was glad to have met Heather and actually relaxed for the first time in weeks, maybe months. It was such a unique experience for me to travel with someone I’d never met. We didn’t have any requirements on each other. We both just wanted to explore, and have fun.

No conversational topic was off limits. We spoke about our difference in spiritual beliefs with no judgment, just open-mindedness. I opened up to her about things that I haven’t even confided in my best friends.

needed that unplanned, impromptu friendship. I have to believe that, as much our opinions differed on this topic, God allowed me to meet this wonderful person.

That night I read my book and fell asleep relaxed. Looking forward to the next several days of our awesome road-trip!

Day 2 Route.

Day 2 Route.

More to come!

Ange

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Nepal Part 3: The End is Best with Momos and Milk Tea

I was finally getting used to climbing and descending (well, mostly climbing).

Morning from Tatopani

Morning from Tatopani

We started our first descent from Tatopani by traipsing through a forest with silver monkeys. I actually got to see one scamper across the path!

OH MY GOSH a monkey!

However, my guide, Suman, crushed my excitement when he told me of his own terrifying monkey experience, where he ended up surrounded by a huge group of these animals, and had to cautiously back away before they attacked him! He doesn’t like monkeys anymore.

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So with that, we continued to Jhinu, where Suman spoke of a popular hot spring. That sounded idyllic considering hot showers were few and far between. I was beginning to forget what warm water felt like.

As we made our way through the forest and out to a more open hillside, I began to think of my favorite show/book series…

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It struck me that we were much like like Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. Except I knew I was Podrick and Suman was Brienne (If you know the series at all, then hopefully you’ll understand why).

Suman (aka Brienne) had some serious field experience, and knew the mission well. I, however, joined along with very few useful camping/trekking skills, hopeful that I would be a decent traveling companion…

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Me

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Suman

…And there we were, wandering through the wilderness, side by side.

Maybe in the beginning, Suman had his doubts about me, but midway through, we’d become unlikely friends, helping each other on our adventure.

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That day was all descent. While climbing up was a physical challenge, the opposite was surprisingly difficult, more so than I’d anticipated.

It had been a while since the stairs actually resembled a solid, safe, way to go. I had to be very careful, or I’d have fallen all the way down the edge of the slope. Not to mention, I was making every effort to be kind to my “grandma-knees” by stepping from toe to heel.

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Finally we made it to the inn of the night, and this place had legit wifi! I had to laugh. There I was, in the himalayas. The only way out, other than walking, was to be airlifted, but somehow I had nice enough internet to show Suman my favorite Foo Fighter’s music video.

The inn, aka wifi paradise.

The inn, aka wifi paradise.

I thought, if the internet is so strong here…then how come it takes me approximately 5 years to upload ONE-GOSH-DANG-PICTURE at home?!?

Complaints didn’t last long. Suman urged me to go visit the hot spring. I was reluctant after an exhausting day of hiking, but I know from experience that hot springs are usually worth the effort of getting to them. So, I put my hiking boots back on, and followed my trusty guide through a wooded pathway to the warm pools.

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Definitely worth it.

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Hiking continued the next day to Ghandruk. Suman let us sleep in a bit, so he opted to take a short cut to the little village; it was a track he’d never taken before. As soon as we started on the trail, I felt a little uneasy. I think both of us did. It was obvious the pathway wasn’t a popular one.

The normal trail would’ve looked a little more, “well kept,” however this trail was narrow and a bit over grown. I began to wander why….

After walking a little while, Suman went around a corner to relieve himself, and I heard a grrrrrroowoorrrrrll from somewhere in the trees.

Oh no, I bet the reason no one uses this trail is because there is some kind of vicious mountain lion. 

Nepal Clouded Leopard...is that what I heard?

Nepal Clouded Leopard…is that what I heard?

I whipped my head around, searching the trees and brush for movement.

Crap, Suman, how long does it take you to pee? I’m all alone out here. I am going to die out here. Maybe it already got Suman….

I began formulating a survival plan.

Should I go back the way I came? or should I continue ahead? I should try to keep my bag, because I have dried fruit in there, but it might make it more difficult to get away. 

Finally, I took a deep breath, talked myself down, and determined that I was overreacting. Suman caught up with me, and we continued on our path. Of course, later, I told him of my fright, and he confessed that a) he heard a growl too, and b) he would NEVER be taking that path again.

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Despite the threat of being eaten, the views were incredible. I don’t even think I have to go into great detail there. You can see for yourself.

I kept thinking how different life must be to live in these “hills.” Many of the children who live there, have to walk to and from school on these paths each day, and often it takes upwards of an hour for one trip. I really didn’t appreciate the availability of my education when I was that young.

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It was lovely to see the terraced fields bursting with rich green vegetation and little violet flowers. It made crossing sketchy suspension bridges a little less terrifying. I knew it when we’d cross one because Suman would tell me to stay put while he crossed first, then he’d let me follow.

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Sigh, I couldn’t stop taking photos of this path.

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After a very frightening day, we made it to Ghandruk where Suman took me on a little tour. He brought me to his favorite place to get momos, spicy dumplings you can order stuffed with fresh vegetables, or chicken.

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Then he showed me some of the traditional architecture of the area.

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I, of course, had to make a joke about all of the stairs he was making me climb on this tour…

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I ended the day with fresh potato soup, and ginger tea, all while talking to a few fellow travelers from Spain, and one from Arkansas who could not pronounce “Brisbane” (It’s “Brisbin” not “Bris-BAYNE”) or “Melbourne” correctly (It’s “Melbin/Melbrn” not “Mel-BORN”). Despite, the hints I was giving. #facepalm #NotallAmericans

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The following day was a refreshing one. Yes I climbed a lot. what’s new? But we climbed so fast, that we went further than Landruk as we’d originally planned, so that the next day’s hike would be a piece of cake.

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The final night was spent at a place called “Australian Camp.” I met some really friendly Chinese tourists here, as we all took turns charging our devices. Also, Suman tried to teach me how to play soccer, but it really didn’t work out very well.

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We were incredibly lucky to have such clear views of the mountains in early February.

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The next morning was the last day of my trek. How bittersweet. I was going to miss trying to play soccer with Suman and sharing Americanisms with him. But you know what they say, “The trek must go on…” (Yeah, they don’t say that).

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What’s this? More stairs? BRING. IT. ON. 

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By early afternoon we made it to the end of our journey, and both drank a sprite to celebrate. Then later, I went to Suman’s house to have amazing dal bhat with his family.

However, My favorite part of that day was the HOT SHOWER and HBO in my hotel. It really is the little things, you guys.

I left Pokhara shortly after, and returned to stay with Dr. Pranil’s family before departing the country. They made my last couple of days in Nepal absolutely perfect.

I got the chance to ride on a motorbike through the intense traffic.

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We dressed up in saris and put on make-up

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Punam, Pranil’s wife spent the whole afternoon and evening making us mouth-watering vegetarian momos.

momo fun!

momo fun!

On the last day, they took me to a traditional Hindi wedding reception. Where I was the only person wearing jeans. I was uncomfortable at first, but the best experiences are the ones that challenge you. Punam grabbed me and had me join everyone dancing!

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It was all Hindi music, so I had no idea what I was dancing to, but no one played any “pitbull” so it was a good night.

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So much love. So many new things. Such a rich culture. More milk tea than I even knew I wanted. It was hard to say goodbye to Pranil and his family.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and I will never forget the experiences I had with these wonderful people.

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Ange

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Nepal Part 2: Start of the Trek

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Have you ever signed up for something that you didn’t believe you were actually qualified for? Maybe you said you had several years of experience for that dream job, when you were actually just sick of going on interviews and hearing the same advice, “…We think you’re great, but we’re really looking for someone with more working experience…”

Or perhaps you spent a substantial amount of time trying to talk up your similar taste in music on a first date. Oh yeah, I’ve listened to Hinder, I think they really…uh…feel all the things. You know? 

It’s all about wishful thinking isn’t it? We justify our decisions to tell these little white lies, because we think it will be absolutely worth it. If I just get that job, things will fall in place, I can start chipping away at the student loans. 

If I can just learn all of the lyrics to Hinder’s ‘Lips of an Angel,’ and really try to like them, (or at least endure them) then I could end up dating this awesome person!

Okay, we’ve all done it at least once (Unfortunately, I fell into the “Hinder” category. Thanks high school), and usually it ends poorly. Oh, you like Nickelback too? 

The smart thing to do, is to learn from it, and don’t do anything remotely like it again.

I’m not so smart.

In Pokhara

In Pokhara

I know it’s not easy to believe, but I’m not much of a mountaineer. These alpine legs of mine are best at walking on flat surfaces. So signing up for an 8 day trek through the Himalayas, without legitimate travel insurance, was more than wishful thinking, it was possible suicide.

Peace Pagoda

Peace Pagoda

When I landed in Pokhara my fears became real. I toured around the city for a day seeing things like the Peace Pagoda all the while looking at Annapurna in the distance thinking, what did I get myself into?

I maybe needed a little liquid courage...

I maybe needed a little liquid courage…

The next morning it was an early start to Nayapul with my guide, Suman, to being our trek.

DAY ONE: Nayapul to Banthanti

I was sporting my boots, my pack, and a little motion sickness from the car ride to Nayapul, but I was optimistic.

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The trek began smoothly. It was a sunny clear day to see a landscape full of unfamiliar sights. My pack was heavy but I carried it (cause IMMA boss). However, Suman insisted on carrying my sleeping bag.

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We saw all kinds of livestock and wildlife.

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Mid-morning we stopped for tea.

At our morning tea break

At our morning tea break

Then we walked on to our lunch spot, chatting about life and our families. I was glad to get to know Suman.

Dal Bhat for lunch

Dal Bhat for lunch

Lunch was tasty. I was feeling pretty good about my trek. Shoot, I can do this. Trekking isn’t too hard. 

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Then Suman told me that after lunch we’d be going up. You mean we weren’t already? What he meant was we would be climbing, for hours, up a jagged stone staircase with no apparent end.

Guys, I’m not kidding. IT WAS TORTURE. After a while my leg started to hurt, and I was constantly out of breath. My feet felt like they each weighed 500lbs. I tried to conserve my water, but it was tough.

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It didn’t help that these old sherpa dudes were passing me like I was the fat kid in gym class, blocking their path. inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale. The worst part was that my right leg was hurting pretty badly, like I had some kind of strained muscle, but I felt like I didn’t really have another choice.

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Inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale…

It was either soldier on to the lodge, or trek the WHOLE way back to Nayapul like a little defeated wimp. I’m that jerk who doesn’t like to lose, so up to the lodge I went.

Almost delirious from climbing.

Almost delirious from climbing.

Finally we stumbled upon the little village. I mean I really stumbled upon it. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to leave a staircase in my entire life.

Smug look of satisfaction

Smug look of satisfaction

DAY TWO: Banthanti to Ghorepani 

Morning.

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I was sore, but Suman assured me that the trek would be both shorter and contain fewer stairs than the day before. So, I decided to push myself.

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There were still too many stairs, but I was starting to get used to them.

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Suman and I would take little breaks to have grapes and dried apricots, so it started to be really fun. We would joke and chat, then before I knew it, Suman would find us a little village so we could grab some tea.

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I was still pretty exhausted by the time we made it to Ghorepani, but I was starting to enjoy the exhaustion.

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We’d made some major progress on gaining elevation. The air was cool and my sweat was starting to chill (Gross, I know. Girls sweat. Get over it).

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We stayed at the “Hungry Eye” and ate spicy vegetable noodle soup as it started snowing. Soon everyone crowded around the small wood furnace, drying out their clothes and exchanging life stories. I live for this kind of thing.

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Suman talked my new friend and me into trying some Nepali wine made from millet. It looked just like water, but looks can be deceiving. It tasted sort of like old dishwashing water, and definitely had a little punch to it.

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The snow continued to fall and felt comforting, like the Christmas I missed. At night I snuggled into my cosy little sleeping bag, and slept solidly.

DAY THREE: Ghorepani (Poon Hill) to Tatopani

This was my favorite day. At 5am there was a knock at the door. It was Suman.

“Angela, It is clear. We should climb Poon Hill.”

UGHHH! I wanted to sleep in! I begrudgingly climbed out of my sleeping bag and layered on all of my warm weather clothes, grumbling as I tied on my boots.

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It was cold, and snowy. Suman gave me some fancy hiking poles to help make sure I didn’t slip and fall. Nice of him, but I still looked like a toddler taking her first steps. It wasn’t long before I was pretty out of breath, and irritated with Suman for forcing me to wake up.

Oxygen burned in my lungs. I was so sick of climbing.

What’s so special about a stupid hill? How can this even be called a hill? It should be called a small mountain. This sucks. There is no way it can be worth it. 

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Strike that. This was so WORTH IT!

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Sunrise on Poon Hill was unreal. The moon was on one side, the sun on the other.

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Photos really can’t capture it.

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There was so much color. Milky blues and reds next to brilliant yellows. As an artist, I can tell you, it was my “Dream Palette”

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What a way to start the day, and what a day it was.

We returned to the inn, had breakfast, and made our start to Tatopani. This day felt like Lord of the Rings style adventure.

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We carved our way through snow covered paths, going down steep dangerous, inclines through forests, and on top of incredible lookouts.

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I finally started feeling GOOD about all the hiking. I was totally in my element. It just took a couple of days to get there. I felt like I owned the mountain, like I’d been raised on it.

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Then things started getting really dangerous. The snow was packed down, causing many people to lose their footing. I’m not kidding you, or exaggerating when I tell you that I could have really gotten hurt. If it wasn’t for Suman, literally holding my hand and telling me exactly where to step, I could have been seriously injured or killed.

Maybe that’s why I liked so much. because it felt like an actual adventure with my life on the line.

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Plus the beauty of it was astounding. The way the light trickled through the trees and danced on the snowy ground below captivated me. I’d find myself not paying enough attention to my footing, and nearly slipping several times.

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By lunch we were past the worst of it. We grabbed a warm meal from a lodge along the path, and sipped on some fresh lemon tea to relieve some of the stress we’d acquired during the first half of the day.

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The rest of the way to Tatopani was relatively uneventful. I mean, we were still in the Himalayas, and it was a beautiful clear day to see the mountains, but we weren’t scared for our lives anymore.

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Making it to Tatopani was nice, but I couldn’t really enjoy it at first, due to…ahem…digestive experiences…I’ll leave that there. You don’t need to know the details. Luckily, symptoms passed quickly and I was able to have some ginger tea while I journaled about the day.

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You know, I was just planning on finishing my whole Nepal story for you guys in this one post, but I decided that, to give the trip justice, I’d need at least a Part 3. If you’re loving it, stay posted. If the opposite is true, why are you still here?

Up Next ↓

Tatopani-Jhinu-Ghandruk-Landruk(just past)-Australian Camp

Ange

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