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Pike Family Album

Turning 50 and the Grand Canyon

50. Just a number, right?

It is -until you turn 50 years old and then it feels like much more. 50 means five decades, half of a century, middle aged. Old.

Last month, I turned 50 and to celebrate (or mourn) the event, I planned a 3-day backpacking trip with my partner and 17-yr-old son down into the Grand Canyon. Many people asked me why I wanted to work so hard and why didn’t I choose a week on the beach of Tobago or Hawaii. But I knew that I needed to prove to myself that I could handle a hike like this and that 50 may be defined as half a century, but it DIDN’T mean that I was OLD.

So, on April 20,the three of us flew to Phoenix, rented a car and head to the Grand Canyon. Having never done more than day hiking, I hired a guide from an awesome company, Centerfocus, and along with him came the backpacks and gear, food, medical bag and an emergency phone that connected to the ranger station in case I needed to be airlifted out of the canyon! I mean, come on, there was a sign at the trail head that scared the pants off me. It said: “It is optional to get to the bottom. It is mandatory to get to the top.” Gulp!

Our guide, Zack (pictured above in the bottom left square), turned out to be a “nice Jewish boy” from my hometown of Newton, Mass. and attended my high school (25 years later, of course). He was fantastic-smart, funny and a self proclaimed geology geek who loved explaining to me what every rock was that we picked up along the trail. And he cooked! He also taught us about pacing, keeping hydrated and never letting yourself get HANGRY (hungry and angry). Zack’s food motto: When hiking, lunch should begin just after you finish breakfast and end just before dinner. And in heeding his words, we all did great and had a ball.

With a 30-lb pack to carry, I labored for weeks about how much camera equipment to bring, and settled on just a D300 body (sans drive) and an 18-200 f4.0-5.6 lens. Bingo! With that, I made hundreds of gorgeous photos and never felt like I was carrying any extra weight. Shown below is my favorite heart-shaped prickly-pear cactus. I had chosen a heart as my “symbol” for the journey (something a friend always says to do, to see how many times the universe gives you a wink along the way), and throughout the trip, I stumbled across numerous heart-shaped rocks, cactus, leaves, etc. It really was a trip all about love!

It was a truly incredible, life affirming trip, including seeing some of the most beautiful views we could ever imagine. Pictures simply do not do the Canyon justice. You have to go there to really appreciate its magnitude and extraordinary beauty. One statistic reports that 85% of Grand Canyon visitors don’t venture more than 500 feet from their car or tour bus. What a shame for them. They just don’t know what they are missing!

We hiked Hermit’s Trail to Monument Creek to the Colorado Rapids and then back up. Along the way, we connected with fellow hikers (including three BEE KEEPERS from Tucson actually heading to Vermont this summer for a bee convention!), ate enough GORP to last me a lifetime, saw my first ever Rattlesnake (a little too close to David!), slept under the stars and waded in the Colorado river! Wow.

Most importantly, I made it back up to the top! 4,700 feet elevation river to rim- 20 miles in 3 days. And I never felt better, stronger or happier.

50? Just a number.

Happy birthday to me.

OK, TIME FOR THE SLIDESHOW:

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end” Ursula K. LeGuin (American writer)

(Quote borrowed from the Centerfocus website)

Explorer 8 does quirky things to my blog!

I’ve just learned that when you view my blog with the browser “Explorer 8″, all of my photos look squished and distorted. So, until I figure this out and correct the issue, please do the following:

At the top of your screen, click on “page” and scroll down to “style” (it’s right under ‘text size’). Then click on NO STYLE. This will make the photos look like photos again, and not  weird distorted images that gives you a headache!

Thanks and sorry for the inconvenience. I have a call into Bill Gates and I’ll get to the bottom of this soon!

Shameless self promotion!

If you havent seen the new MARRIAGE EQUALITY issue of SEVEN DAYS newspaper, pick up a copy or check out the website to read the profile ABOUT ME written by Anne Galloway. And, Matt Thorsen took a great photo, which aint easy, given the subject matter!
karen pike photography
AND…. don’t forget, in celebration of the marriage equality bill, I am offering an awesome special for all same sex AND straight couples getting married in Vermont in 2009-2010.
I love Vermont!!!

Passover seder

My family celebrates Passover each year with our neighbors and friends in Hinesburg and we take turns hosting. This year, our wonderful neighbors up the road, Bruce and Barbara Hicken, opened their home and hearts and we all celebrated, feasted, laughed and debated the meaning of certain prayers and rituals in the Haggadah (The Passover prayerbook). It was a wonderful night.

passover seder

The seder plate

 

passover seder

You break the middle matzo (called the Afikomen) and then the custom is to hide half of it somewhere in the house for the kids to hunt for after dinner.

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

passover seder

The Afikomen is found…well, the crumbs, anyway!

passover seder

Next year in Jerusalem (but Hinesburg’s ok, too!)

Holiday greetings

This is the first year in a long time that we simply couldn’t get our holidays cards in the mail–so, to our family, friends and colleagues, please accept this last- minute attempt to reach out and connect with you all. Merry Everything, everyone!

holiday greetings

Happy Hanukkah

Like so many other families around the world, we gather with friends on Hanukkah each year to light the menorah, eat latkes and play dreidel. And each year I hear “Sunrise, Sunset” playing in my head as I look into the faces of my children, wondering how the last 365 days could have passed so quickly. I love the ritual of reciting the prayers, covering our heads and lighting the Shamash ( the “helper” candle, as we taught our children when they were toddlers). And for eight days in a row, I can rejoice that all of my family will take a few moments out of our crazy busy schedules to be together and celebrate the light.. Amen!

hannukah

hannukah

hannukah

Time for golf: David’s Birthday party

My son David recently turned 14 and I took him and four of his friends to play a round of golf (yes, golf in December!) at Vermont Indoor Golf in South Burlington. You play against an enormous screen, with GPS courses that are alot like a WII but gives accurate club and swing feedback for the true golfer. Tare also hundreds of real golf courses available with true photo images. Either way, you use real clubs and when the ball hits the canvas screen, it looks like the ball continues to fly down the fairway toward the green. The simulatot then calculates how far you have to go to reach the green for your next shot. Needless to say, the kids had a ball and I loved watching them (and snapping a few pictures, of course!)

vt indoor golf

That’s my stylish son, David, doing the victory dance above.

vt. indoor golf

Trevor takes aim…

vt door golf

Alex does his best (and was a good sport about ribbing he took on his lack of Golf Prowess)

vt indoor golf

Tyler, ever the lover of drama…

vt. indoor golf

David tries to concentrate on his putt. Really, he didnt know what he was doing!

vt indoor golf

I decided that Trevor at least looked like he was a golfer.

vt. indoor golf

Jean-Julien shows us ow it should be done!

vt. indoor golf

Happy birthday, David!!

Thanksgiving 2008

It has become tradition for our family to celebrate Thanksgiving with our close friends who live just across the road. We trade houses each year, but we share the cooking and it’s always a wonderful feast and a very special day. 

Thanksgiving

 Kriss

Thanksgiving

Gillian

Thanksgiving

James

Thanksgiving

 Emma

Thanksgiving

David

Thanksgiving

Bianca

Thanksgiving

Jaquie

Thanksgiving

Yum!

 

Thanksgiving

Bella looks like what we all felt at the end of the day!

First cross country ski run of the season

Gillian and I dusted off our cross country skis and headed to Sleepy Hollow Ski Center for our first official day of the season! We were so excited! OK, so it’s not stellar conditions yet..but it was still great to be outside and on the trails. Thanks, Sleepy Hollow!

skiing

skiing

skiing

skiing

skiing

skiing

skiing

skiing

Packing up for the day (just an excuse to show off our bumber stickers!)

James and Emma facebook portraits

I’m playing with a new portrait technique. Here is my step son, James, and my daughter, Emma, as the subjects of my first experiment:

James

James

emma

emma