lunedì 15 aprile 2013

Consider me Miles Davis

Please read this entry with a sense of humor.  Otherwise you might want to cry in embarrassment for me.  Some people may be able to relate and I am really not sure I should share such an embarrassing event with the world but I am pretty sure I am not alone!  Sorry mom.

As you know, Matt and I enjoy hiking.  And as you know Matt and I have ridiculous stories from our hiking experiences.  It seems like we are amateurs even though we have hiked all over the world.  There is a well preserved hike of the Amalfi Coast which used to be a communication trail (  We have wanted to hike this trail for a while and decided that this weekend was the time!  The weather is perfect for hiking, not too hot, not too cold, and not raining! Matt discussed our upcoming adventure with friends from work and found several other people who were interested in coming too!  We were going to have a great day outdoors with friends and even make a few new friends in the process.

I was a bit nervous about going with so many other people because I am still way overweight with all the baby weight from my first baby.  I am slow and out of shape from being lazy.  I recently sprained my ankle.  And I am 4.5 months pregnant with my second baby.  I told Matt I didn’t want to be the person to slow everyone down, which is typically the case even if I am in good shape!

So thankful for the hiking pack from my sister Cynthia and brother in law Jack!

Friday night, Matt and I did all the preparation for the hike, packing snacks for the baby, for us, for Lucy, filling the CamelBak and packing the backpacks with sunscreen, diapers, snacks, hiking poles, toys to entertain the baby, first aid kit with ice pack and ace bandage, knife, rain jacket, hats, sunglasses, in other words, everything we thought we would possibly need for a Saturday hike. Saturday morning arrived after a very wakeful Friday night.  The baby did not want to sleep; she must have been so excited about hiking! As soon as she saw her hiking backpack in the living room, she wanted to climb in and get the party started!!  The morning went rather smoothly (or so I thought) until we pulled out of the garage and realized our dog was not in the truck but in our neighbor’s garage gorging on cat food.  This should have been a red flag of things to come but instead we laughed about how we almost left Lucy. 

The group was meeting up at the base and leaving from there at 9:30.  We arrived at 9:31 and realized we had missed everyone but Matt’s BFF Kato and two of his kids, who were later than us!  The other group had some people who had done the trail before so they knew where to park etc so when I realized we were not going to be with them, I braced myself for an adventure!  I have gotten a lot better about traveling and doing unfamiliar things since living in Europe.  I am not what you would call an adventure seeker (like my husband and his brother!) but I am getting better at going with the flow and realizing that even though we might end up doing something much different than expected/planned, it will be okay and fun (if I let it be!)  My husband would never let anything happen to us.  While we were waiting for Kato and the kids, the baby rubbed sunscreen in her eye which caused a lot of screaming, pain, and rubbing of the eye.  Trying to explain to a one year old not to rub her eye which hurts was tough.  I was able to wipe her eye with a wet towel (she is surprisingly easy going about things like medicine, wiping eyes, putting on lotion etc, I am so lucky!!).   Eventually we had everything organized, the GPS set, the baby’s eye was flushed out, kids had used the bathroom, and we were off to the Amalfi Coast!  The GPS coordinates were surprisingly accurate and easy to follow, even though Matt did miss a turn at the end.  We were able to find the trailhead without too much drama.  According to the sign, the trail would take 180 minutes and is approximately 7km.  I added an hour to our estimate because we are slow hikers (I am slow and Matt loves to look at the views!) and I also knew the scenery would be breathtaking.  This is about when I realized I forgot to make the sandwiches for us as a snack since we planned on eating a big Italian lunch when we got to the end of the trail. 

We started the trail right before noon. The view was amazing and the trail was not too difficult.  The website stated that it was an EASY hike, which I disagree with, although it is mainly downhill.  It is rocky in some areas and a lot of the cliff side is open (this is important to me because I am afraid of heights, especially tumbling off the side of a cliff).  There is a decent amount of shade from trees (or the clouds!)  There are lots of picnic benches throughout the hike for breaks and lunch if you remember to bring your sandwiches!  The trail is well marked and well maintained.  At the end of the hike there are stairs to Positano which might possibly be the hardest part and makes me want to never start at the other end of the trail!! 

Most of the hike was wonderful.  The girls (almost 9 and 7) did an awesome job.  My slowness helped them a lot!  They would rush ahead of us on the trail and then stop and wait for the slowpokes to catch up.  The views were breathtaking the whole time.  We passed a waterfall, lots of neat caves, houses built into the mountain, and there was an incredible ocean view the whole time!  You could see the clouds forming around us because of our elevation (REALLY COOL!!)  The girls were excited about everything they saw which was really fun to watch.  Lucy was able to be off the leash and the baby LOVED being in her backpack.  She kept pulling Matt’s head closer to her so she could kiss him.  And I could do the hike pretty well.  I was not fast but mainly because I was trying to be careful on the rocky terrain since I have a tendency of slipping and falling while hiking.  Or walking.  Or climbing stairs.  Matt makes me use poles, especially when I am pregnant. 

About the 2 mile mark (halfway), Lucy found a special treat left by other hikers.  (nothing disgusting…a huge pile of dog food.)  This of course slowed us down because she wanted to eat all of the food and needed to search the whole area around to make sure she found it all.  After our hike of Vesuvius (I lost her on the volcano), I was hesitate to go too far ahead of her so I was waiting and trying to convince her to leave the rest of the food.  Eventually, I had to climb back up the rocky part (of course she got stopped on one of the rocky parts) to get her and on my way back down, I sprained my ankle.  Yep…halfway through the hike I twisted my ankle.  Of course Matt was prepared and had ice pack and an ace bandage for Ice and Compression (thank you AFN for teaching us all about RICE) but I am stubborn and did not want to slow the hike down any more by making everyone wait while I iced my ankle.  And I thought that if I took it out of my shoe, it would swell and make it harder to put the shoe back on.   This means, I hiked remainder of the trail with a hurt ankle.  This made me slower but I did not need to stop much because I wasn’t walking fast enough to need breaks! And it hurt more to stop than to keep moving. 

At this point I am slightly annoyed with myself since I was stupid and forgot my brace.  And I fell on yet another hiking trip (seriously how many times do you have to fall before you figure out how to walk properly?!?) And I really had to pee.  So we are walking past some of the most beautiful things and I am trying to not pee, walk without falling, project my twisted ankle, and not worry about my dog or my baby/husband combo falling off the mountain side.  And then I sneeze.  If you have given birth and/or been pregnant, you might understand why a distracted sneeze is a bad thing.  Matt who is walking ahead of me turns around for one of his periodic checks to make sure I am still vertical and notices that I sneezed.  He asked me if I sneezed and I burst out crying because since he could tell, I knew it was much worse than I thought!  And unfortunately my pants were not quick dry!  What an awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable half a hike! 

We reached a town called Nocelle which is where the trail ends and the stairs begin.  It is a deceiving moment because you think the trail is finished and you just have to walk a little bit farther to find food and a bus.   But that is not true.  You have to walk 1700 stairs.  And they are the awkward size stairs where you can’t quite step one foot on each step but they are not quite big enough for two normal steps. I think this town was AMAZING though.  The whole town is built into the mountain and there are no roads.  Every bit of space is used for houses.  There is very little grass and every bit you see is used for farming.  Everything is old stone.  We saw a man delivering something.  He had to carry this box up however many stairs just to turn around and go back down!!  The town was so beautiful in a very different way and something that I could never have imagined before living here.  You would never find anything like this in the United States.  Getting to experience this kind of town (even for only a couple hours) is one of the things that make living overseas so special. 

The baby loved the Camelbak.

Lucy at this point of the hike is so tired that she stops at the top of every flight of steps, lays down, waits until we got to the bottom of the flight and then runs down to catch us.  When we finally got to the bottom of the stairs, we had to figure out where to catch the bus and how to get back to the car.  Luckily there was a very nice Italian man who helped us figure out where to get the bus (literally you get off the trail and the bus stop is right there) and explained which bus to take, where to transfer buses, and what our end destination should be.  All while saying he didn’t speak English!! 

At the end of the trail in Nocelle

So we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  We waited on the side of the road on the Amalfi coast.  This is probably one of the most dangerous things I have ever done!  The road on the Amalfi coast is narrow (wide enough for two European size cars) with cars parked all along one side making the road a very tight squeeze.  And then it is curvy.  Very very curvy.  And the drivers drive like Italians, fast and like they are the only one on the road.  At one point while we were waiting, we watched a motorcycle pop a wheelie while passing a car in a blind curve.  We waited for 45 minutes or so (during which Lucy fell asleep under a car in the ditch before we saw a bus.  All the people waiting with us, mainly Italians were super excited for the bus to finally appear and the bus was RESERVED! So we waited some more.  At this point, we are almost completely out of food for the baby and she is ready to be out of her backpack.  Finally the bus arrives and we cram on.  We all end up standing but I somehow ended up backwards.  Imagine standing on a crowded bus.  Now imagine the curviest road you know.  Imagine trying to stand on a bus with an Italian bus driver on the craziest curvy road while not to falling over on the people around you.  Imagine Matt standing on a crowded bus with a giant baby backpack.  And imagine pregnant me standing backwards on a bus driving on the Amalfi coast with a dog in between my legs, desperately trying not to get car sick.  And imagine all this with a baby who is tired, hungry, and ready to get out of her backpack.  Matt and I made our public singing debut (much to the other passengers chagrin!) although our terrible singing is better than a screaming toddler.  At one point, all the passengers who are facing forward gasp (everyone but me!!).  I turn around just in time to see our bus almost collide with another bus in one of the sharp curves.  Thank goodness I was backwards and didn’t actually witness the full almost crash!  Finally we reach the town of Amalfi, where we will transfer buses to get to Bomerano.  We get off the bus and go to the first bar we see (in Italy a bar is a coffee bar not alcohol bar) which of course means it is going to be ridiculously expensive.  We sit down, get water, café, gelato for the girls, use the bathroom, beers for the men, coronetto and fruit for the baby, and the baby gets to finally use her legs while we get to rest ours (well one person has to follow the baby!!!).  Our wait for the next bus is about 45 minutes.  We have totally missed lunch and it is too early to get dinner (plus 45 minutes is not enough time to get a dinner in Italy) so we decide to wait until the next town to find dinner.  The bus is loading to leave and we gather all our belongings and convince the dog to get on another bus.  Luckily we find seats in the very back of the bus.  When the bus goes through the first curve, the dog goes sliding across the width of the bus.  So again I end up with a dog wedged between my legs on a crazy curvy road.  The baby is wiggly and wants to climb over everyone until finally daddy does his magic and gets her to sleep.  After about 20 minutes or so, we arrive in the town we need.  (We were watching the other Americans who actually knew what they were doing to make sure we got off in the right spot!!)  We gathered all our stuff…Matt with a sleeping baby. Me with a backpack, a baby backpack, a dog, hiking poles.  Matt and I successfully put the sleeping baby in the backpack and get out the GPS to try to find our way to the car.  The satellite signal is not great so the men decide to ask for directions and we find two Italian women who don’t speak English who are able to help us.  Instead of pointing us in the right direction, or trying to tell us in Italian, they turn around and walk us to the right road.  It was about a kilometer from the bus stop to the cars.  

A little taste of Nocelle but doesn't really show what a neat town

Our hike was 4 hours.  Our journey to the car was 3.5 hours.  When we reached the car, Kato and the girls had to leave to go home because they were about 5 hours later than they thought they would be.  Matt and I attempted to get a sleeping baby out of the backpack unsuccessfully.  I changed her into her pajamas and then she had a mini meltdown.  After about twenty minutes of screaming and crying, I got her to calm down with a bit of granola bar (chocolate covered granola bar…she is MY baby!!) and she agreed to get in her car seat.  She ate the rest of the granola bar and the very last applesauce.  We hit the road and decided to just head home because the baby was happy in her seat and it was well past her bedtime.  During the drive home, we practiced popping our ears (she thought I was so funny!) and about 45 minutes into the drive home she fell asleep.  We pulled into our driveway around 9:15 and decided that we were not going to go out for food.  All day long I was looking forward to bruschetta and pasta and ended up with a very tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead.


Despite all the craziness, this was by far one of my favorite hikes.  The hike was so beautiful, well maintained, and not too difficult.  Of course, I made it difficult by just being me!  I know Matt was nervous that I was going to have another breakdown or be mad at him (pregnancy hormones!!) but we laughed about all the stuff on the way home and talked about how awesome it was.  After driving the Amalfi coast several times (and getting sick every time) and walking it once, my preferred method of experience the Amalfi coast is by foot.  For the next trip, I want to make sure to bring twice as much food as we did this time, wear my brace, and find time to stop more.  I regret that I was stubborn and focusing too much on doing the hike instead of sitting and enjoying the beauty.  I forgot that sitting and watching the view does not mean I am weak, it means I am alive!!

The Amalfi coast is as amazing as everyone says.

Reading a book before the hike starts!

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