Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One Year Anniversary

Mt. Hood

Mt. Adams

On May 27th Mark and I will celebrate our one year anniversary. In many ways it seem crazy to me that we will have been married for a whole year, yet it has also begun to feel like we’ve always been married. It seems so unbelievable to me that one year ago today I was still living in Marion, Indiana with Amber [soon-to-be-Abel] Howard, working in the Spiritual Formation Department and preparing for my wedding.

So in light of this joyous event, Mark and I are planning to do what most couples do to celebrate their anniversaries…climb mountains :). It only seems fitting since we got engaged on top of Colorado’s 14,060 ft. Mt. Bierstadt. Mark had some frequent flyer miles from his around-the-world trek, so we were able to get some free tickets to Portland. We will spend a week out there with the intention of climbing both Mount Hood and Mount Adams, as well as seeing Portland and whatever else comes our way while we’re there.

Climbing Hood and Adams will be super fun, but ups the ante bit for us, bringing in the elements of some glacier travel on Hood. Mt Hood is one of the most climbed mountains in the northwest, topping out at 11,237 ft. The South Face [also known as the South Spur] is the easiest and most climbed route, with only one glacial crevasse near the top, known as the bergschrund. Luckily, with some careful maneuvering, the bergschrund can be traversed around and the climb can continue with relative caution and ease. We want to be careful, though, to not take this trek too lightly. Often this mountain isn’t given the respect it deserves, and when people aren’t prepared or are careless, accidents can occur [don’t be too alarmed…hundreds of people climb this mountain every year, while the accidents that occur are minimal in comparison].

Mount Adams, on the other hand, is a glacier-free snow/ice climb [aka “walk-up”], with a summit sitting at 12,276 ft. The trek has been said to be relatively easy, being only 5.7 miles long, but climbs 6,676 ft. in the process. In the end, because the South Spur is crevasse free, the most popular descents are either snowboarding/skiing [at an intermediate level] or glissading. The South Spur glissade has become famous on Mt. Adams, and by July, four or more glissade chutes have been formed which function much like a slide at a water park or a bobsled run [provided you still use an ice axe to control your speed]. We’ll have to see which descent we choose to take once we’re there. I know Mark would be stoked to snowboard down, as would I, depending on how difficult the route looked; although, I do have to say, there is something attractive about the idea of sliding 2,000 ft. safely down a mountain on your butt!

So now the question becomes...any advice for us as we prepare?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Locked IN

the door...semi broken.
Jamie trying to jimmy our way out with a credit card.
we were ready to try anything.
on the phone with the locksmith.
our doorknob when all was said and done.
Last night Mark and I invited our friends Jamie and Cassy over for dinner and a relaxed night of hanging out. It ended up being a really fun time and connection – we ate together, watched a Warren Miller movie, talked a little rock climbing and snowboarding…we covered it all. Somewhere in the midst of our movie watching, I noticed that our door wasn’t closed, so I went over to close it, and as I did so, it stuck a little. At the time it didn’t mean much to me…I just turned the handle, gave it a little shove, and went back and finished watching the movie. At about 11:30pm, Jamie and Cassy got up to leave, and as Jamie turned the knob to the door….nothing happened. The door stayed just as closed as it had been when no one was touching it. The handle was twisting fine, but nothing was happening on the inside and it was then that we realized that, yes, it was completely broken. We had managed to lock ourselves INSIDE our apartment. Most people, at this point, would simply open a window and climb out; however, our apartment is a downtown apartment: on the second floor with nothing but concrete below our windows and nothing to soften our landing if we jumped. There is a tree about 6 feet from our window, but the odds of missing it and breaking a leg…or your face…were too great, so we sat. Our minds wandered back to our recent conversations on rock climbing, and it was then that we began wishing that we had a harness and some rope to repel out the window.

I need to point out here, that simply taking the door off it’s hinges wasn’t an option. We live in an apartment that was renovated and is owned by the Dinner Theater Playhouse next door, and so everything that was done to our apartment was done commercially. Our door is made of steel and probably wouldn’t have come off unless we a] had the right tools, or b] demolished it. We tried several things such as pounding on the door in hopes that our neighbors would hear and come see what all the ruckus was about. I laid on the floor and called out the crack by the floor “Maaaatt?” “Jooooooooooe?” [our neighbors who live across the hall], but again with no reply. At one point, Matt did run up the stairs, and in response to our pounding on the door, came over, tried the knob from the outside, only to dash our hopes of freedom when it didn’t work. He didn’t stick around long, and after a hard kick on the door, ran off again with a quick, “sorry!”; and we were left to fend for ourselves.

We called our landlord, who ended up driving half an hour from his home [at midnight nonetheless], where he spent 20 minutes calling so called 24-hour Locksmiths [which we found out, really aren’t 24 hours locksmiths], and as we came close to giving up and pulling out the futon for our guests, he called back with a locksmith on the line. She managed to talk Mark and Jamie through the process of taking apart the commercial doorknob, and after 5 minutes of unscrewing, we were free! At 1:40am, our captives were liberated, and our crazy night came to a close.

I guess I always thought that if I ever locked myself anywhere, it would be OUT of my apartment. It just goes to show that anything truly is possible!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Flash Flood

I've never experienced a flash flood before, but we hot hit last night with thunderstorm after thunderstorm, and all over the Quad Cities, streets were under water, cars were floating down the street [we didn't see this, just heard of it on the news], and houses were getting wet...on the inside. It was nuts!
This is normally an intersection.

The news said we got more than 3.5 inches in less than half an hour!

This was taken from our doorway to the street.

Yup...those cars are parked on the curb.

Circa21, the dinner theater was having a show during this...the big question: how do we get all these people in really nice clothes and high heels out to their cars without making them wade through shin-deep water?

And then, just as quickly as it came, it had drained, and people were able to get in their cars and drive home. At least in Rock Island. I think our neighbors across the Mississippi in downtown Davenport weren't so lucky so quickly.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


A few weeks ago I finished reading Love Thy Neighbor, by Peter Maass, a journalist for the Washington Post who covered the war in Bosnia in the early 90’s. It is a compelling interweaving of experience, his own thoughts/opinions, interviews with Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats alike, and thoughts on the nature of the soul of humanity. It is a book on love, hate, good, evil, genocide, and life. It will leave you thinking about your values and priorities as a Westerner, and our role in the international community.

That same night we watched Hotel Rwanda – a movie about the civil war in Rwanda in the mid-90’s between the two people groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. It is the story of Paul Rusesabagina, the Hutu manager of an upscale hotel that uses his position to save over 1200 Tutsi refugees [including his wife and family]. It is a story of a tragically broken country that strongly mirrors the one Peter Maass covered in Bosnia only a couple years earlier.

I was struck at the similarity between these two stories – two stories that took place in two very different cultures on different continents, only a few years apart. Yet, it wasn’t as if this was something new. People have been doing this for thousands of years, and I have to ask why. Maybe it’s hard for me to comprehend because I live in affluent America – a white, middle class girl brought up with no oppression and no fear of danger as I walked down the street. But just because I haven’t experienced it, doesn’t make it right and me wrong.

As the credits rolled on the TV screen, I found myself deeply broken and unsure what to feel. Should I feel anger at the people who were committed to cleansing a people group from the country they called home? Should I feel sadness for the depth of evil that can hold a soul captive, and drive him to commit acts that he believes are for good? It brought up questions on our role, as a powerful, Western country, in the international community: when do we step in? When should we sit back, take the criticism and let a country fight its own battles? Does being a member of the UN require us to step in?

With the risk of getting political, what do you think?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Fondue Experience

Last weekend, Mark and I were recruited as one of four couples to share at our church's Marriage Enrichment night. We got to share on adjustments in marriage, which was right up our alley, and Mark's parents were one of the couples to attend. The night went really well and was a lot of fun! They even had this fun, prom-like background for us to take pictures by!

These next few pictures are a little dark, but it was dark in the restaurant, and a flash would have been a little distracting to our fellow diners. For my 24th bday, Mark took me out to dinner at Crave, a bar, grille, and fondue room in Davenport. It was so awesome! It was a 3-course meal, but was really more of an experience than anything else. They even had tables with heated centers so our fondue would stay warm through the whole, tasty meal. Luckily for us, my bday was on a monday, and our fondue experience was half-price :)

The fondue pot and my plate.

Jess "fonduing"