Cinque Terre

One of my all time favorite travel locations is in peril. Cinque Terre experienced flash floods a couple of days ago. I hope that Cinque Terre is able to recover from this disaster.
These videos are of two of the towns:
Monterosso
Vernazza
In honor of these 5 lovely towns, I am re-posting my travel journal entries from July 2004 and adding photos taken during that trip.

Cinque Terre
July 08, 2004, 09:30
We just arrived at our lodging in the Cinque Terre. Sorry I haven’t been able to update the journal in a while, we have been in the Amalfi coast where internet and modern technologies are in second place to relaxing and swimming in the ocean. I will write as much as I can for now and I will update my journal for Amalfi Coast later.
We decided to skip Florence and Tuscany for this trip due to lack of time- We did not want to rush through it in 1 1/2 days. I will have to come back and enjoy all of Tuscany on another trip.
We took an overnight train from Salerno to La Spezia. La Spezia has trains that connect you to all of the Cinque Terre villages. We have decided to stay in Riomaggoire, the first and I believe the largest village. We will be doing light walks only today. After the lack of sleep, I don’t think we will have the energy to do the heavier walks.
I must go, there is a nice gentleman waiting to use the only computer here. I promise that I will update more later.

From CinqueTerre

I love Cinque Terre
July 09, 2004, 11:46
Yesterday we arrived here on the morning train. We first took the train from Salerno to La Spezia and then inadvertently got off at the wrong stop because we did not realize that we had reached our stop (We were stuck in a tunnel and could not see the signs). We got off at the next town and stopped at the hostel there and waited until 7 am when it opened. Realizing that the hostel had a lock out time of 1-5 everyday and it looked like it was to rain yesterday, we decided to check out the lodging in the original town that we were supposed to stop at.
We decided to take the path called Via dell’ Amore (path of love). The path was a 15 minute walk. Ah, they had beds for us at Mar Mar. Not only did we have beds, we got a private room! We are staying in a dorm with eight other awesome people. We have a huge functional kitchen that we later use. We soon get along famously with others in the dorm. We a meet a couple of others who are not staying at our dorm but have been hanging around. After our nap, we go to the beach in Monterossa with our new friend Marissa. We sit on the beach and relax and I go for a swim. Floating in the ocean with my eyes closed and seeing where the waves take me is so relaxing. Unfortunately, it started raining so we decide to walk back to the train.
When we get back, it is time to prepare for dinner. Since most shops close at 7 here, the entire group goes shopping to pick up what we need for the meal. One gets wine, another pesto, another pasta, etc. We pop open the wine and begin cooking what I can only describe as an awesome meal. We set up the table on our patio outside which overlooks views of the town and the ocean. Soon the rain begins again. Thinking quickly, we grab all of our towels and lay them over the clothesline above to protect the food from the rain. It made the meal much more charming. After cleaning up from dinner, we hear music in the courtyard and decide to check it out. We arrive and find a charming puppet show. An authentic Italian puppet show. We do not understand a word that the puppets are saying but the tone of voice of the characters and the crazy movements of the characters make us laugh. We then decide it is gelato time. I have not talked about gelato like Nikki has (see her journal entry) but I believe that gelato is the one of the most awesome things in the world. It has become a staple of our diet. We finish the night at a pub that plays American popular music. As the night progresses, our entire group becomes dancing fools (except poor Nikki, I had to walk her home early). Even the owner “Franka”, a woman who I believe is in her fifties, comes out to dance and boogie with us. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end. The bar closes and we stumble down to the water. It is so refreshing to be by the water at night with the cool breeze. Some guy plays the bongos behind me as Marissa dances. I decide that I am too tired to hold a conversation anymore so I stumble back to my room.
I don’t want to leave this place.
Well it is time to go do the monster 5 hour walk.

From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
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From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre
From CinqueTerre

Another late start, and back in Rome
July 10, 2004, 18:10
Yesterday, after Thursday nights events, we were on to a late start for our big hike. We decide to start at Monterossa which seems to be the popular thing to do. I think I have never walked up so many steps in my life(Not even in the Amalfi Coast). When we arrive at the top, it is totally worth it. From the top, you can see the most picturesque of villages and it continues that way throughout our walk. Along the way we also witness lemon farms, olive farms, and of course grape vineyards. All I can say is that all of the beautiful pictures that I have seen of Italy, have been proved to be true.
Most of you know that I have been preparing for this trip by walking long distances, well it wasn’t enough. I can walk far distances now but those darn steps (or what I call non-steps – random rocks thrown on the ground to resemble steps) kicked my butt. I survived though, and I am really happy that I did the walk. It was the most spectacular view that I have ever seen – well almost as good as the Amalfi coast. I guess they are about tied in my opinion.
We take only the first and second trails, Monterossa to Vernazza, and Vernazza to Corgnelia. Those two were the best, hardest, and longest trails and we didn’t have time to do the rest.
While stopping for Gelati in Vernazza (I swear they put drugs in the stuff – can’t resist) we stop to watch these insane boys jump into the water off of a ledge that is about 8 feet higher than the water only to be thrown back onto the ledge when a huge wave comes in. It was crazy. After talking to others we discover that they have been doing it since they were real young and it is a daily event for them – for hours a day. It kept us entertained for quite a while. Later on, we saw the boys by the pharmacy patching up their bleeding legs and arms. Nikki and I have pictures of this event if you want to see it.
Returning back to Riomaggoire, we meet up with our roommates/new friends for dinner. New roommates join us later for wine on the terrace. Good conversation. We again return to our bar for a drink. Franka greets us with hugs and kisses. I am tired after one beer and have to leave on early train next morning, I go to bed. While getting ready for bed, hear group of drunken Americans/English speaking nationals singing loudly by the water. I get to sleep despite this.
Today, I am back in Rome after a four hour train ride this morning. I visited the Colosseum and wandered around town before I happened upon this internet cafe. I have already had gelati twice today. I am going to need gelati detox when I get home. I might try to get an authentic Italian meal once more and visit the pub around the corner from my hotel. Maybe I can meet some new people before I leave. Anyway, don’t want to waste any more time indoors, must get ready to see Rome at night.
Be home soon!

Note: Some of the entries were edited for grammar and readability.

Random thoughts about weight loss

This post is a little off topic but it is the only forum I have to express the frustrations I have had with weight loss throughout my life. For about the tenth time in my life I am attempting weight loss once again. It started as a child. The first few years of my life I was a healthy weight for my body. Around the year of 1985 at the tender age of 10, I spent a summer eating in Ohio. I ate my grandma’s home cooking, I ate 3 of those fresh glazed doughnuts from the local bakery (daily), I ate my grandpa’s stash of candy bars, and I drank a lot of Pepsi. I gained around 10 lbs that summer. To adult it doesn’t seem insurmountable, but to a child, it is a life changer. I came back to school the next year faced with day in and day out of pure mental torture. Guys I had been friends with for years were ridiculing me. They sang songs about me. I went home crying most days of the week. The next couple of years I was able to shed some weight. Some in part due to a growth spurt, some because I switched from regular to diet soda (at age 12!), and some just because I had a little spark of motivation to lose weight so I would stop getting ridiculed. It took a few more years before I was actually at an ideal weight but I at least felt sort of normal for a while (I don’t know too many teenage girls that don’t have body issues). The summer of 1992 I got a job working at a theme park at an attraction. I spent long hours walking back and forth in the heat, and jumping on and off race cars. Occasionally I would have to run down the track to start a car that had stalled. I ate very little. That summer I dropped 15 lbs. I met so many new people, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. The next couple of years I was able to sort of sustain a normal weight on and off. I did gain some weight (freshman 15) but I was able to shed it as easy as I gained it. I finished college and started my first job. My lifestyle consisted of working, partying, and eating. I joined a gym but still the weight slowly came back on. I dealt with adult ridicule at this point. I remember a situation where my ex-boyfriend (who I was for some reason still friends with at the time) tells me that his new love interest referred to me as the “fat one over there”. Another situation where a guy who I guess was trying to hit on me calls me “thick” when I don’t return his advances. I was angry. I escaped a negative environment and moved back to my hometown. There I find temporary weight loss, a new job, new friends, and a new life. I felt good about my body again. The partying and eating once again takes a toll on my body and the weight comes back on. And the story repeats a few more times. I have used weight watchers, south beach diet, personal trainers, 5k training….but it all ends in the same – the weight comes off, then back on again. Then I meet my life mate and introduce him to my world of always trying to lose that extra weight. He is supportive but gets frustrated at my seemingly desire to not be healthy. We work through it. I decide to seek hypnotic weight loss therapy. I decide it is crap and only attend two sessions. Then something happens, 15 lbs mysteriously disappears. Is it the hypnosis? Who knows? We get married and the honeymoon begins. I eat like I am on vacation, for two years. Working out happens in spurts. The weight comes back on. I am now my heaviest ever. So the journey begins once again. What can I do to make it different this time? How can I make it “stick”. I started hypnosis again. I have been going twice a month. It seems to have helped me with many of daily struggles I have with food. I am able to associate doughnuts with dog shit in my mind so I don’t desire them. I still struggle with social eating and drinking. Sometimes I can portion control, other times I cannot. 3 beers in an evening still has not turned into 1 beer like it should be on a weight loss plan. There are still things to work on. Workouts have slowly been increasing in number and intensity (with occasional “bad days” where I skip) and I am no longer gaining weight. But I am not losing weight either (except from the miraculous two pound loss in the past two weeks). I think some more honesty is needed with how much I am actually eating. I have been working on journaling everything; the good and the bad. Journaling gives me a realistic picture of if I really am putting the work in. Workouts definitely can be stepped up a notch. I might try running again. It sucks but I think it is an good way to burn lots of calories. Finally, the beer will have to be set aside for a while. It will be painful, but no weight loss is going to happen when beers sabotage it with their empty calories.
Skinny Kid Days

From Photo Challenge

“Fat” Leala

From Photo Challenge

Working the weight off

From Photo Challenge

After 15 lb weight loss

From Photo Challenge

Adult Weight Gain

From Photo Challenge

The Last weight loss, for my 2009 wedding.

From Photo Challenge

Whiskey Good

From Photo Challenge

I don’t particularly like whiskey but I love whiskey barrels. I have been looking for wine barrels for the past few years to use as planters. It is very difficult to get used wine barrels in Central Florida. We have very few wineries and it is very expensive to have barrels shipped here. You can imagine that I was ecstatic when I learned that a local big box store is now carrying whiskey barrels (which are essentially the same). It took three visits and 3 different locations for me to commit to buying one. On the first visit, I was just curious. Are these good for planting? Why does the sign say keep moist and in the dark? On the second visit, it was raining. I didn’t feel like dealing with putting the barrel in my car in the rain. On the final visit, I was finally able to get the nerve to ask someone to help me get one down from the huge pile. I also asked for assistance to help me lift it in the car. However I ended up getting impatient and loading the barrel in my car by myself.

When reaching home, I lifted my barrel out of the car (which now smells like a country bar) and dropped it in the general area that I wanted to keep it. I decided to water it down in order to keep it moist as per the instructions (If allowed to be empty or dry, the metal rings will tend to come loose). After pouring water in I realized the thing needed drainage holes. I enlisted my husband to do the drilling. He drilled two holes before I realized that they were not big enough. I needed a different kind of drill bit. After another trip to a big box store, I was ready to drill again. This time I drilled my own holes. Go me!

From Photo Challenge

The barrel was rolled back to it’s final resting place and filled with some organic potting mix. I planted tomato plant, one pepper seeding, one eggplant seeding, one basil plant, and two small dill plants. I added some drip irrigation tubes that were free. Now all I can do is wait and see what survives. The back corner of my yard now has a rosemary and whiskey fragrance.

From Photo Challenge

Fall Planting Time

We have figs…

From Photo Challenge

And muscadine grapes ….

From Photo Challenge

Getting the garden in shape
Today was the first day of the awesomeness that is called fall. Finally we got a break from the heat and I took this opportunity to get some gardening done.

First I cleared all the dead plants out of one of the square foot gardens to make room for young healthy plants. I kept one tomato plant and some borage (for companion planting).

From Photo Challenge

Next I added some peat moss and compost to the soil that already existed in the bed. I additionally threw in some Perlite I had sitting in the garage. Perlite helps aerate the soil.

From Photo Challenge

I planted half a dozen random tomato plants, a squash, and a watermelon (totally out of season – this is an experiment). In between the tomatoes, I planted random small plants in a survival of the fittest fashion. It will be interesting to see what survives the next few weeks. Eggplants, basil, and corn are in this group. Finally I staked the tomatoes to prepare for the growth.

From Photo Challenge

Infirmary

Here is what is leftover from my summer seedlings and purchases. I have them in what I now call the infirmary. They are sickly and need constant care. What survives out of this group will fill later holes in the garden and share the cool weather garden with the leafy greens.

From Photo Challenge

Score!

Today I was able to witness the final stage of the butterfly life cycle. One of the Swallowtail butterflies decided to stop in and hangout for a bit on the tree that served as its host. Notice in the background an empty pupa that was home to either him or one of his friends.

From Photo Challenge

He was very patient while I excitedly snapped photo after photo of him. I love his under wing coloring.

From Photo Challenge
From Photo Challenge

Finally, he got tired of me harassing him and flew off. Luckily I got this motion photo.

From Photo Challenge