tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

29Dec/160

Vacations and Loose Skin

Vacation wise, this has probably been one of my healthiest yet. My wife’s side of the family is very health conscious, so the food is healthy and in reasonable proportions, and everyone works out pretty much daily. There is also an adorable little niece who we hand off chasing duties to, meaning someone in the house is always responsible for following her around as she runs around and making sure she doesn’t bang her head on anything. It’s a running joke by now that she’s helping me get my daily steps in. Just now this blog was interrupted by following her around for 10 minutes, running after her, and occasionally sitting down to read half of a book.

Maybe it’s the mirrors here, or maybe it’s a weight loss, but I’m noticing some loose skin. The skin around my belly button is starting to sag a bit on each side. Just a bit. But I had my wife look at it, and she agrees it looks like loose skin.

I was hoping to avoid this. I was hoping I wasn’t too far gone, but the stretch marks that I’ve had for years likely speak against that. But it’s funny in that it’s both a positive and a negative. It’s something to celebrate and something to worry about. It means I’m making serious progress. But it’s also an unpleasant side effect of this whole process. It means I may need to have surgery, or do some special exercises to work on this. It means that I was working towards a place where I’d feel comfortable being shirtless in a pool, and now realizing I’m liking actually moving AWAY from that.

But it does mean progress. It does mean health. It does mean I’m moving in the right direction. It’s a funny little victory there.

28Dec/160

Apple Watch First Impressions

A few weeks ago, thanks to an unexpected bonus and a good Black Friday sale, my wife and I picked up a pair of Apple Watches. I’ve worn it every day since purchasing it and thought I’d share some early thoughts.

It hasn’t radically changed my life

Simple fact of the matter there. It’s a lovely little thing, but truthfully my habits and whatnot haven’t largely changed since purchasing it. I’ve been on a good weight loss trend, and this hasn’t really arrested or helped that, I think. Certainly hasn’t hurt. It’s nice being able to track my workouts a bit better and have a more accurate idea of my calorie burning thanks to the heart rate monitor, but it hasn’t made me workout more or less. There’s nothing I can really do that I couldn’t do before.

But mind you, the same can be said of the iPad when I first got it. There was nothing I could do on that that I couldn’t technically do on my iPhone. But there was lots it encouraged me to do, like read more, read the paper, etc. There are still plenty of activities I just generally won’t do if I don’t have my iPad with me. 

And with the Watch I could see the same happening, particularly if I didn’t already have a workout schedule going. I am more likely to quickly respond to texts and messages I find, partly because I can do so quickly from my watch, and because I’m more likely to see them. So far this hasn’t proven a hindrance to me. It doesn’t bug me to get the notifications. I can very easily dismiss them from the watch or ignore them. That’s been nice!

The Good

It’s a pretty little thing, for sure. I can change my watch face at will between something fun like a Mickey Mouse face (WHICH ANNOUNCES THE TIME WHEN I TAP HIM OMG GUYS) and a more informative one. My default has generally been one that has the weather report, time, my current activity levels and a quick button for the Breathe App.

That is probably my favourite feature of it. The watch has an app called Breathe, which takes you through a short, one minute, guided meditation at will. The guidance is minimal - just some taps to breath in and out and a quiet bell when you’re done, but it’s something I can do. It tracks how often you do it throughout the day, and gives you a summary at the end of the week, as well as tracking your heart rate through the exercise.

For me really the tracking has been the most fun and useful part. It tracks how many calories I burn through movement, how much exercise I get each day, and how often I go an hour without standing. It has metrics for these things and as you complete them you fill 3 “rings”, which is the main activity tracking. You get updates throughout the day on how you’re doing.

Now these don’t always seem to be the most accurate. It counts basically any time I’m walking anywhere as “exercise” and anytime I stand up as “movement.” I can fill the exercise bar easily (which is set at 30 minutes, which you can’t change) even on the weekends just by moving around my house and going up and down the stairs in a normal way. The fact that I can fill it so easily seems to defeat the purpose, though I’ve read reports from others where it doesn’t seem to get filled up for them at all, even on a long walk. The “movement” bar seems easy to fill as well, though that’s adjustable, but I always very easily fill that one.

Despite their flaws, I LOVE having this tracking ability and being able to look back over the month. All this data is synced to my iPhone for viewing and review. It even tracks my heart rate throughout the day and syncs that, minute by minute. I’m not sure how accurate it is always - I think it depends partly on how tight the watch it and how it’s sitting on my wrist - but it’s fun to have the trends anyway.

Using it to pay also feels very futuristic. I’ve used ApplePay on my phone before but it feels much cooler on the watch, I’ve gotta say. 

The Bad

I don’t have a lot of BAD to say, honestly. The battery is solid (I’ve yet to run out of battery in a given day, and for example now I’m sitting at 46% at 6pm on a normal day, having gotten up at 5:45am). The interface is fine - it could be better, but I’m not sure how, and making a useable and intuitive interface on a tiny touch screen is no mean feat. I had it all down within a day or two of messing around. I wish there was a different way to browse apps on the Watch, but that’s about the worst I would say.

Mostly I’d say my main problem is there aren’t a ton of apps for it, and that feels like wasted potential. There’s a fun workout app called CarrotFit that guides you through workouts, pinging your wrist when it’s time to switch movements and giving you a visual on how to perform the workout on your watch screen, and it’s great, but I feel like there could be something that counts my pushups or something like that. 

 

Overall, it’s a great device, and I’m glad I bought it. It won’t change my life, but it does…smooth it out a bit, if that makes sense.

25Nov/160

Hidden Progress

There are certain habits you develop when you’re bigger that you don’t even realize. Little things, little adjustments that those damned lucky people who never feel like that don’t do. Most of my pants have this hidden stretchy waist elastic. Comfort waist, they call it. I barely ever buy pants that don’t have that. I used to roll up the sleeves on all my dress shirts. I could never buy shirts that fit properly, the sleeves were always too long (since I had to buy XL shirts which are designed for taller guys), so I rolled them up.

The one that I’ve kept for a long time was unbuttoning my top button. Even with a tie tied I would always do this. It’s a look, I’d tell people if anyone asks, but realistically it was because buttoning it was uncomfortable. 

A couple days ago, I noticed my collar felt loose, and when I reached up to tighten my tie slightly, I noticed the shirt was buttoned. Not unbuttoned. I just hadn’t realized. It was comfortable. Loose, even. The shirt I’m wearing today I wore a few weeks ago and felt it a bit snug. Now it’s loose. The collar on this one actually is by most definitions too loose. The standard for a men’s collar is that you should be able to fit a finger or two between the collar and the neck comfortably. I can fit my whole hand pretty easily. 

I’m also wearing an old belt, one I’d bought a year or two ago when my old belt wore out, being optimistic and buying something smaller because I was sure this latest fitness trend I was vaguely following was going to work (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I wore it a month or two ago, but it felt tight at the second loop. Now I’m on the third loop and feel comfortable.

It’s funny because I was convinced I was stalled, stuck. My weight hasn’t been moving much. I’ve never set too much stock by the people who will dutifully remind me oh but muscle weighs more than fat, don’t worry. But I’m starting to wonder. I think I look different in the mirror. Damn you past Tom for not taking comparison pictures. Fuck that your bathroom is messy, take them anyway. I will tonight. I can’t really see much of a difference in the mirror, but I feel it. I stand taller. My chest feels..slimmer, but bigger, somehow. I feel like I take up less space. In a good way. I feel like I move easier. I do, really. And my arms and legs are in a near constant state of very slight ache. Not huge. Not crazy. Just sometimes when I reach a certain way, or bend a certain way, I feel that twinge that reminds me I spent 40 minutes this morning trying to improve myself.

I still worry about the weight loss. 215 is still well above the healthy range for my height, and I’m nowhere near the level where I have the bulk to balance that out. But I seem to be going back down again, and I seem to be doing so despite not eating perfectly lately. It’s slow. Very slow. But maybe that’s okay.

I’m getting stronger with the rings. I lift myself up more easily. I still can’t pull myself up fully, but I feel the progress. I guess the point of this is to remind you that progress comes in ways you don’t expect sometimes. In little weird spots that you might not notice immediately. But it’s important to be watchful, and to celebrate those victories, and to trust they will keep coming, more often than you think. 

There are certain habits you develop when you’re bigger that you don’t even realize. Little things, little adjustments that those damned lucky people who never feel like that don’t do. Most of my pants have this hidden stretchy waist elastic. Comfort waist, they call it. I barely ever buy pants that don’t have that. I used to roll up the sleeves on all my dress shirts. I could never buy shirts that fit properly, the sleeves were always too long (since I had to buy XL shirts which are designed for taller guys), so I rolled them up.

 

The one that I’ve kept for a long time was unbuttoning my top button. Even with a tie tied I would always do this. It’s a look, I’d tell people if anyone asks, but realistically it was because buttoning it was uncomfortable.

 

A couple days ago, I noticed my collar felt loose, and when I reached up to tighten my tie slightly, I noticed the shirt was buttoned. Not unbuttoned. I just hadn’t realized. It was comfortable. Loose, even. The shirt I’m wearing today I wore a few weeks ago and felt it a bit snug. Now it’s loose. The collar on this one actually is by most definitions too loose. The standard for a men’s collar is that you should be able to fit a finger or two between the collar and the neck comfortably. I can fit my whole hand pretty easily.

 

I’m also wearing an old belt, one I’d bought a year or two ago when my old belt wore out, being optimistic and buying something smaller because I was sure this latest fitness trend I was vaguely following was going to work (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I wore it a month or two ago, but it felt tight at the second loop. Now I’m on the third loop and feel comfortable.

 

It’s funny because I was convinced I was stalled, stuck. My weight hasn’t been moving much. I’ve never set too much stock by the people who will dutifully remind me oh but muscle weighs more than fat, don’t worry. But I’m starting to wonder. I think I look different in the mirror. Damn you past Tom for not taking comparison pictures. Fuck that your bathroom is messy, take them anyway. I will tonight. I can’t really see much of a difference in the mirror, but I feel it. I stand taller. My chest feels..slimmer, but bigger, somehow. I feel like I take up less space. In a good way. I feel like I move easier. I do, really. And my arms and legs are in a near constant state of very slight ache. Not huge. Not crazy. Just sometimes when I reach a certain way, or bend a certain way, I feel that twinge that reminds me I spent 40 minutes this morning trying to improve myself.

 

I still worry about the weight loss. 215 is still well above the healthy range for my height, and I’m nowhere near the level where I have the bulk to balance that out. But I seem to be going back down again, and I seem to be doing so despite not eating perfectly lately. It’s slow. Very slow. But maybe that’s okay.

 

I’m getting stronger with the rings. I lift myself up more easily. I still can’t pull myself up fully, but I feel the progress. I guess the point of this is to remind you that progress comes in ways you don’t expect sometimes. In little weird spots that you might not notice immediately. But it’s important to be watchful, and to celebrate those victories, and to trust they will keep coming, more often than you think.

18Nov/161

Getting Unstuck

It’s funny the way we think about things. I was ready to come here and post about how I’ve been stuck in terms of weight loss, losing and gaining the same 5ish pounds for the last 3 months. And in some ways that’s not untrue. 3 months ago as I was at 221. I’ve gotten down to a low of 214, and as of today am back up to 215. My weight will usually drop over the course of the week, and jump back up over the weekend. 

But I came here to say that I had first hit 215 several months ago when, looking at my tracking, it was less than that. A couple weeks. October 18th, to be precise. About 4 weeks ago. Not that bad. And if I look at the graph, and drew a line to get the average trend like they taught us in grade school, the line goes down. Absolutely downward. But it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I’ve been stuck. It feels like I’ve moved backwards lately, falling into old bad habits of mindless eating and cravings for chocolate and fried goodness. There’s been stress, and that’s part of it, I’m sure. 

I feel better equipped this time though. Portion control. Exercise. I have tools. I have a community. I have some ideas as to how to push myself a bit further, and most of them aren’t undoable. They involve some unpleasantness. Resisting some cravings. Staying involved with the community. 

I remember someone telling me a long time ago that, on average, once you’ve done something consistently for 6 months, you’re generally set on it. You need 6 months for a habit to form, to create something you’re doing constantly. For reference, I started actually working out on July 18th, 2016 and, with the exception of taking some time off for Legion, have worked out 5 days a week, M-F, since then. In order to work out for 6 months consistently I need to keep doing it until mid-January, 2016. I feel like if I can do that, I will get there. It may take me a while, I may not have the crazy huge results everyone else has in 6 months or 3 months or whatever, but that will help me keep the tools. Keep the faith.

18Jun/160

My Experience with NerdFitness Academy

Oh God the tags on this one are gonna attract SO MANY SPAMBOTS.

Last week I took the plunge and signed up for NerdFitness’s Academy, their paid course on weight loss and fitness. It was a one time fee of $99 USD, and I purchased their yoga course as well ($37 I think, half off when purchased with NF Academy). The Academy is essentially a large interactive book, coupled with a goal tracking quest system and tied to a large community, both on Facebook and in their forums.

So far, I’ve made a lot of progress and enjoyed the fuck out of it.

The course starts you off with mindset work, as the idea is less to have you lose weight fast, the idea is to change your relationship with weight and fitness, framed in nerdy and RPG elements. It definitely speaks to me very well, and it’s been successful. They hand you “quests” to complete, which include goal setting, logging your food, taking your measurements and taking before pictures, and as you complete them you get XP and level up.

You also choose a class, which generally symbolizes the kind of things you want to do. Druids, for example, do lots of meditation and yoga. Monks do lots of martial arts, warriors do strength training, etc. In his book, the founder of NerdFitness, Steve Kamb, even suggests creating your own class, though the website doesn’t support this currently. The class mostly comes into play in their forums, where you can join a guild for these classes and do challenges. A lot of people guild hop, however.

The goal setting section is a big part of it, and that’s been helpful. I set a few big goals, including a “Big Why.” Mine was, in short, that I need to give my wife a good, long life, and there’s a lot of things I’d like to do that I can’t currently, stuff like play golf with my in-laws, fit into suits that aren’t custom made, and keep myself well read, both on current events and in terms of fiction and non-fiction. NF focuses on physical fitness, but also has elements of just generally levelling up yourself and improving yourself overall.

So far I’ve been logging my foods and generally making better choices. I’m doing less emotional eating, less moments of “I’ve had a bad day so I’m getting M&Ms,” and it was that loss of control that really got me. Doing something that was legitimately bad for me, that I knew was, both from a financial and physical perspective, because I craved that momentary high of chocolate, of sugar, etc. I’m not saying I’m never eating M&Ms or junk food ever again, but trying to make better choices about when I do. I’d do things like graze on candy if we got some in the office, or if there were appetizers out I’d pretty much graze constantly. Last night we had chips out, and I ate some, yes, but not nearly as many as I wanted to, not nearly what I thought made sense. 

And this is my problem really. It’s not about never having those things, it’s about those emotional moments where I go to eat something and regret it afterwards, because I overeat, my stomach hurts, cause it is never as satisfying as I think it will be. 

So I’m hoping this will stick, and we’ll certainly see. I’m trying to take the victories where I can get them, make better, small choices, as opposed to big ones where I feel like I’m cheating myself or depriving myself. I do feel like my mindset has shifted a bit though. I know this will be hard, but thinking about “this is what’s healthy for me, and this is what I need to do” has been helping.

And there does seem to be a good community out there to support me! NF’s one is top notch, and there are daily Facebook posts of people sharing their victories (and defeats, occasionally) and I’m excited to dive into their forum, the guilds, and challenges therein. The ever-inspiring Jenn has also offered to help me dive into the Instagram fitness community, which looks like a good one as well. Debating if I want to set up a separate fitness Instagram account, as I’ve seen a few others do. Leaning towards it.

It feels good, and it feels like progress, which I haven’t felt in a long time. I haven’t taken any measurements or weighed myself yet, but this is more about lifelong change that will get me there, not about a quick fix. My mind feels better, and I’m excited about the future, and eager to accomplish the things I want to do. I have an idea for a walking challenge that has me really excited, specifically trying to walk the distance from Hobbiton to Mordor. Not barefoot, though.

I’ll do my best to update when I can, folks!

9Dec/150

Happy Holidays! Yule (b)Log Day 3ish

So I got into a Facebook debate vaguely about politics yesterday.

Yes, I know, I know.

A friend had asked about referring to a party around this time as a “Holiday Party” or “Christmas Party.” I weighed in and said that, simply, to me I didn’t see any real downside to being inclusive and calling it a Holiday Party, but I didn’t much care either way. Proceeded to debate with someone who felt the opposite, that by management calling a party a Holiday Party, they were tacitly forbidding employees from celebrating Christmas or referring to Christmas. I definitely understand the point, and I think proper communication is key there to ensure no one is excluded.

But I definitely can’t really wrap my head around the idea of “The War on Christmas.” As I understand it (and I’ll admit Sunday School was a long time ago), Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. A key part of this story is that there was no room at the inn, and so Mary had to give birth in the barn. Now I’ve always read that as a bit of a morality lesson on being inclusive, on inviting people into your home, into your lives, and sharing with them whatever you can. 

So it doesn’t quite equate to me when some folks don’t want to invite others into their holidays. I get that you might celebrate Christmas, and want to say that, but wouldn’t you rather try to celebrate the season with as many people as possible? Share the joy and camaraderie and glad tidings? The way I do that is by saying Happy Holidays, personally. It invites everyone in to celebrate, but it also doesn’t exclude me or anyone else from Christmas. I’m not angry if someone says to me Merry Christmas - I sure as Hell celebrate it, even though I can’t say I’m overly religious.

But I do get angry when someone insists on it. When I worked retail I had more than a few people reply to my “Happy Holidays” with a pointed, slightly angry “Merry CHRISTMAS!"

I get that people want to protect their holidays and their right to celebrate how they choose. I’m not advocating for anyone to ban anything or force anyone to do anything. I just don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to invite others to celebrate others, why they wouldn’t wish them glad tidings in a way that makes them feel included?

So that’s why I say “Happy Holidays” generally. I’m not saying anyone else has to. But why not? In some ways I think it’s most in the theme of the season.

3Dec/151

Tom’s Guide to Gift Giving: Yule (b)log Day 2

So I suck at gift giving. I’ll admit that straight off the bat. I love doing it, but I just suck at coming up with ideas.

I mean I have lots of great ideas. But they’re all huge and decidedly expensive. Sudden trips. Big gestures. And whatnot. But, I’ll try to share what I think I know. 

1. Give something they wouldn’t get themselves. There are often things we want but that we might think are frivolous, or silly. A gaming themed throw rug. A giraffe print. Even something as simple as a computer game. Think about what the person might want, but might not want to buy themselves, or might not know they want. I’ve always thought about getting my Dad an iPad. It’s frivolous, and he doesn’t need it, but he has taken to using my Mom’s well, and I’ve thought it could open up a lot of worlds for him. Of course, I don’t have that kind of cash, and he would tut tut at the expense, but it’s the kind of thing he’d never ask for, but I think he’d enjoy.

2. Give something they will use. A practical gift isn’t always a bad thing. I’d love a good pair of socks right now! I’ve gotten Klutzy a journal in the past which she uses daily. We got my mother an iPad that changed her life basically, and ditto for an iPhone. Something unexciting isn’t always the end of the world. It all depends on the person. You can’t always get them the most insightful, precious thing ever. And there’s nothing wrong with something that says “I know you can use this.” 

3. Avoid clothes. Clothing is a very personal matter, and it’s something that’s very hard to capture. Someone’s size and personal style can be shifting constantly. A too small or too large gift can depress. The exception here is accessories. A scarf, gloves, a hat, these things can vary and work. Of course this all goes out the window if it’s someone you know REALLY well, but even then, tread lightly. I would be very wary about buying Klutzy anything. While I think I know her style well, I’m not sure I’d be able to pick out something that she’d like. Now, a scarf or purse, though that I could do.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask. Most people won’t give you a list, but I think many will happily offer a suggestion, or a general theme. You can get around being too explicit by asking questions like “What are you in to lately?” Maybe they’ve taken up a hobby that you can support! Or maybe they’ve been thinking about it and you can help start them off. 

5. Give gift receipts. Even the best gift ever may not work, or they may get two, or it may not quite be to their taste. Get a give them a gift receipt. Don’t be ashamed or angered if they do end up returning your gift. The joy is in the gifting itself, not the expectation of repayment or something like that. You won’t always get it right, but if you give something honestly, and try your best, they will be grateful. 

Well, that’s about all I know! Now if anyone has any suggestions for my wife, I’m all ears...

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1Dec/150

#merryasfuck: Yuled Day 1

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. My favourite, really. I think this is because I tend to embrace things. If I like something I go full steam into it. When I find a new show I love I'll watch it religiously, go read up about it, go follow the stars on Twitter, all that jazz. And I'm the same way with both Halloween and Christmas. I love both holidays!

But Christmas is often a tough time for me. It's always been busy as all Hell. When I was working retail it meant lots of hours and lots of shifts. Now at the office it's one of our busiest times of the year, sending our client gifts and finalizing things before the new year. The days fly by and I rarely have a moment to sit back and enjoy them.

So this year I decided I was going to take my moments to be #merryasfuck. I started the Christmas music every chance I got a few weeks ago. We put up decorations outside and in. And I got a fun Christmas themed mug at Homesense for work.

Sometimes it's about choosing how you're gonna feel, and going from there. I'm still nervous. There's still plenty of stress in my life. But I'm going to do my best to choose to be merry whenever I can. Put on Christmas music in the car. Play it quietly at work. And write about Christmas, right here!

I think this might be the best Christmas yet.

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7Oct/150

The Inability to Relax

I’ve found myself almost wholly unable to relax this vacation, so far. It has nothing to do with the vacation itself. Though there have been two days of somewhat stressful, unfamiliar drives, those didn’t stress me overly much, in retrospect. There’s just a kind of base level, inescapable stress right now.

I know they say you should stay away from work email over vacation, but I found myself getting nervous about what was waiting for me. I usually find it eases my mind to check work email a bit over the weekends or breaks. Nothing huge, I check it on my phone. I have it on a separate app which is under no circumstances allowed to send me any kind of notifications. My boss has my personal email if there’s something somewhat urgent, and my cell phone number in an absolute emergency. And she’s good about knowing what’s what.

So I’ve been checking and there’s been nothing urgent. Couple little things, and some people seem to not be getting my out of office email, but as far as I can tell that’s not my fault. 

So why can’t I shake this base stress level? Do I need some kind of detox, to remember that the office will likely not burn down around me? That the few projects I left unfinished are in no way urgent? I spent the first few days in one of, arguably, the most beautiful places in the world, marvelling at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. And yes, I checked work email from my balcony, watching the sunrise over the Rockies, and felt good about it. But since then it’s all weighed on me. Am I spending too much money? Is work okay? Is there work or other such things I should be doing, instead of sitting back and zoning out with a book, or Hearthstone, or WoW? Hell, even this is a bit of a concession to the part of me that says I should be productive (blogging being more productive, I suppose).

I used to be so good at this. Now I just worry a lot. Not sure what the key is. I started working on the WoW/gaming blog I’ve been planning on setting up forever, just to feel productive. 

Anyway, practice makes perfect, right?

5Oct/150

Hotel Coffee and the Sunrise

The nice thing about coming west is you wake up earlier. I’m used to Eastern time, where it’s about 10am as I write this. I’d be finishing my first cup of coffee now in the office and likely would’ve just finished reviewing the weekend’s emails.

Instead, I’m sitting on a hotel balcony, cheap hotel coffee (which is surprisingly okay) steaming in the cold air. I checked work emails to feel important, if I’m honest with you, and there wasn’t much. Replied to what I could to show dedication and initiative (doing it clearly on vacation) and then texted my mother to show her the view. Periscoped it too just for kicks. Someone kept asking me to say something, which was a bit odd.

From here I can see the sun rising over the mountains, warming them, that bit of steam like substance forming a haze over some areas. I’m cold as I write this but it’s worth it for the view. Absolutely.

Colorado is amazing so far though. Denver is this city full of culture, growing rapidly, with a wide cross section of people. It still feels oddly half-populated though compared to Toronto. My brother-in-law took us around to several hot spots on Saturday and it was incredibly easy to get a seat, wave down a friendly bartender. Each spot had a massive selection of beer and cocktails, many of them local. And amazing food. One of the best burgers I’ve ever had, period. 

But Vail…I kept telling Klutzy it feels like something out of DisneyWorld, which to me is one of the highest compliments I can pass on. Storybook almost, with its German-inspired ski town feel. Hundreds of neat little shops. Surprisingly delicious pizza (which I may raid for breakfast after this). We went up the mountain today, the air so thin that even a short walk winded me. But the view was worth it. Absolutely.

Even driving here was amazing. A bit hair-raising, yes, down mountain roads in an unfamiliar, older beast of a car, generously loaned by my brother-in-law. But gorgeous. Driving by these little pieces of civilization carved out of rock and stone, at the foot of these behemoths of land. Old mining towns, the structures still there, clinging to life. I wanted to stop and look at things approximately 4000 times.

I’ll close this out now because my ass is getting numb from propping my laptop up on my legs in a weird position. And the sun has nearly risen. But dear God, is this place magical.