New Zealand: Along the Ben Lomond Trail.


Hike-about is an adventure that commenced June 2010. After storing our household movables, ridding ourselves of a house but retaining our 'home' together, we set off with the purpose of hiking in different parts of the world, not forgetting the home country, the USA.

Our primary focus is hiking to mountain peaks but any challenging hike will do just fine. Extended stays enable us to enjoy and experience living in various places amongst differing cultures. Hike-about has evolved into a way of life. It's also a process of discovery, both the world and ourselves.

We work and live 'on the road' but return to the city in which our grandchildren reside, every couple of months. This provides us the wonderful opportunity to be with them as well as a child or two, even three and of course, friends.

By the end of 2022, the blog contained over 1,470 hikes, each a set of pictures with stories and anecdotes from the trails. An index to the right allows the viewer to identify earlier experiences.

Finally, we are often asked about the journey's end.
ur reply, as accurate as we can state, is: "When we are either forced to cease through health issues or the enjoyment level no longer reaches our aspirations, we will hang up the boots."

"A Life Experience As No Other: Dare to Seize the Day Together", published by Fulton Books, depicts our life on the road and mountains until the beginning of 2017. It has developed 'exponentially' since then.

Jenni and Jeffrey Lazarow

Whereas we continue to update the blog regularly, we no longer circulate email notifications.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

As the Sun Sets on Leg One of Hike-a-Bout

Prescott, AZ - Playing on the Rocks

Sitting on the Rock of the Bay
Sky lake
No diving. Phew!
Rest well tonight
Stump and beauty
Love on the Rocks
Ship Ahoy
Three Black Birds

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eating Kosher Crow

Today, Tuesday, is another somber day of the Jewish calendar so we did not hike. However, it does not mean we spent no time pondering and thinking. With the stock market losing so many points, nearly 300 on New York and more on the other exchanges, it’s a wonder anyone has money to spend. We did mention the other day that the trend looks down. Before you know it though, it could suddenly jump up again. It is not what we would term a rational mechanism for pricing securities on a day-to-day basis—but it’s the best we have. (We must give credit to Winston Churchill for this last statement although it was in a different context.)

Anyway, our editor, in a show of no confidence in our tracking ability, purchased a ‘junior positioning’ device. We are not peeved by this…well , maybe a little, because after all we accept we don’t know everything. Of course, that is another of our attributes—an abundance of humility. Back to the gadget. This is not a full-blown GPS. We think our editor wants to change incrementally to avoid us throwing a tantrum. We are not as dumb as we look although sometimes that is questionable. The said gadget, when it eventually aligns with the stars, the moon and we think the satellites, points in the direction of the car or whichever starting point we select. We also need another device to help us remember the starting point we choose. We have to admit a certain admiration for the device but we stay with our principles and offer thanks…reluctantly.

On Monday, while descending the trail in Flagstaff, we felt it was never ending. In a fit of pique, although we are not lost, we pull out the device and take a reading. We are moving in the right direction so that is good news. We forgot to mention in all our excitement that there is another reading on the gadget. It is distance. When we measure the distance to the car, it presumes a ‘straight-line’. This information bothers us but we say nothing. We are learning to keep the upper-lip stiff. We carry on walking down and seem to be getting nowhere. We are now really peeved because the gadget reads half a mile to go. Will we ever finish? Our editor sees the frustration even though she is bringing up the rear. She catches up and begins to explain. ‘You see,’ she says, ‘the reading you have of half a mile is not accurate.’ ‘What use is this gadget to us then?’ we answer, making the point we have kept bottled inside for a time.

She explains further, ‘the gadget can only measure “as the crow flies”. Depending on the switchbacks and the terrain, the distance could easily be double the reading.’ This is exactly what we need to hear as every muscle in the body is aching and then some others, too. Fortunately, we remember the teachings of our sages and try to remain calm before answering while we continue the never-ending hike.
‘You don’t think we should give the device to the crows—they will make better use of it.’

Every story has a conclusion, some better than others…I miss seeing my editor rolling her eyes, even her red pen wasn’t that bad and oh to hear her sweet voice again. It’s gone very quiet.

Where There's Smoke.......

Today, we turned the car around so that it faced west. Then we put the foot down and headed for the great Pacific. We calculated that we spent twelve days in New Mexico. As we mentioned previously, there are less people in this state than in San Diego. We don’t know what that means but for us, the rugged nature of the terrain was wonderful and gave us much enjoyment. We would offer a guess that the people in this state are also a little on the rugged side. However, we say this from a brief observation rather than as a value judgment. After all, we like tough people, too. We would like to see a few more in the nation’s capital. However, that may be wishful thinking on our part.

We sat in the car as we journeyed towards Flagstaff, Arizona. We have spent much time in this great state. We prefer the central and northern parts. In fact, we are very fond of them. As for the southern region, we are not that crazy about it. Perhaps we should sell it back to Mexico. Sorry. That was not an appropriate statement to make in these times of extreme sensitivity. People ‘fly off at the handle’ for the strangest reasons. For instance, people seem to get very upset when a law is enacted and the authorities have the chutzpah to want to enforce it. This is all too complicated for us. We do not have the sophistication to see behind the intricacies involved. We mentioned earlier, we are not intellectuals.

Talking of ‘crazy’, we came across a wonderful saying in Ouray. In that region, there are many mountains and dangerous areas for driving and climbing. People say ‘you don’t have to be crazy to cross or climb a mountain but it sure helps if you are’. We wish we had thought of that. Later when we were at the top of the tramway at Sandia, we noticed another sign. It stated ‘No outside food inside’. We deduced that they must grow all their food in the kitchen. We were very impressed with that concept. We wondered if you could have inside food outside. No time to think of that as our editor is ‘making with the eyes again’.

We set off to climb Mount Kendrick in the Kaibab Forest, north of Flagstaff. There is a station at the top that is our destination—the crest is deceptive as the mountain sits well back from the trailhead. The statistics tell us a different story. Rated strenuous, 8.6 miles round-trip, 2600 feet gain. It is a steady climb the whole way with wonderful views of the valley and surrounding mountains. The path is on the outside of the mountain so we spend most of the 4 hours on a ledge. It is a long climb, giving us time to tell you what we learned today.

The hut at the top is the place for ‘fire-spotters’. Every day we gain valuable knowledge. In fact, on the way up, we overtook a young man carrying a full backpack. Later when he arrived to open the hut, we realized he was a fire-spotter. We eventually reached the summit after crossing the ‘saddle’ from another mountain and sat to allow our muscles to relax. The spotter arrived and we watched him get down to business. By this time, we were very curious to understand what a spotter does. We also get a lot of pleasure when we watch other people work—it is relaxing. He puts down his things, takes a drink and ‘fires-up’ the radio. We presume he is talking to the base station. We are also very interested in different jobs because maybe we could also be spotters. We wonder about the qualifications but we are confused. Perhaps we should ask him about the idiom ‘when he sees smoke, is there fire?’ We decide against it after being jabbed in the ribs by our editor. In the meantime, we continue to think and ponder and realize the spotter has much time to ponder and think on the job, too. Our eyelids begin to get heavy just watching him at work. We think if we are so tired from just watching, imagine how exhausting it must be for him. We feel very fortunate.

We wonder how they rate his performance. Should there be no fires, has he achieved much, we are thinking. However, if he spots fires then he is doing a good job but in the meantime, the whole forest could burn. This happened in 2000. So who wins, we contemplate.
"I'm not moving--muscle seizure"

We are resting from the strenuous climb and thinking that it is another 4.3 miles down to the car. This is not a pleasant thought. People think it’s all downhill from there. Yes, that is true. However, it is not like riding on wheels. We think we should suggest to the editor that we sign up immediately for an opening as a fire spotter. That is when the real troubles begin. We did not mention earlier that while we were hiking up the mountain, the black clouds were forming and the lightning flashes were again scaring our editor. She wants to ‘bolt’ down while we are still recovering from the upward journey. A person can probably see a flash-point building. What to do. We believe strongly in marriage and so we abandon plans to become a fire spotter. We are now thinking of becoming a conductor—a lightning one……… Forgive me, I am very tired after today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Spectacular Sandia - Albuquerque

Friday morning we decided to hit the trail earlier than usual. Our goal was set on the overpowering Sandia Mountain Range. It is a wonderful but intimidating sight. We have never come across a ‘low’ or ‘easy mountain’—they all need to be respected. However, this is a religious one. It requires more prayer than usual. Back to the present.

The early going proves to be very tough as there is no decent trail from our commencement position. After an hour of scrambling over rocks, fighting the mosquitoes, keeping an eye out for snakes and avoiding the millions of cactus plants, we call a meeting. We learn from a local that the trail we are on will not get us to where we need to go because of various changes. Plan B calls to use the tramway as it is Shabbos later and we cannot be late. The tramway is an amazing piece of engineering—man at his best. (We can discuss with anyone who has an interest, later).

We then hiked at the top and enjoyed an incredible experience. We forgot to mention that we were also influenced to change tack because of the recurring injury of the thigh. It is proving to be bothersome. We were hoping that it would wait and be accommodating until San Diego before playing-up like it is. What can you expect? Like children, these body parts.

At the top, we met Art, an old-fashioned gentleman. He volunteers once a week as a ranger. He is a fascinating man who could see the excitement in our eyes, or so he said. He noticed this even though we were wearing sunglasses. We will let the pictures tell you the whole story.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Day At The Office

Business has been difficult but still enjoyable. Boston is not too busy and New York (market) is as usual, a ‘casino’. It looks like the trend is down. We enjoy sitting on the mountains when the action in the market does not fit our style. Seems like we are destined to spend much time outside ‘civilization’. We hope this is not an excuse to remain more focused on climbing than business. However, when we have to pay for accommodation each day, we remember about business. It is a good system; it keeps us focused…sort of.

We journeyed to Albe, Alba, Albuk aha!, Albuquerque today after a splendid four days in Santa Fe. We enjoyed three outstanding climbs. On the fourth day, we decided to visit the town square and observe the people. At the same time, we did a little business. We bought some Microsoft, Verizon and Australian dollars. Today, we notice we got one-out-of-three correct in the short term. For us that is not bad—we have done worse in the past.

We had an enjoyable time in the park. We fired up the laptop on a bench, opened a Coke and did more business. Lynn and Fred, an elderly couple from Maryland, joined us and we discussed various issues. In the meantime, three hobos began fighting in the next office—well a few feet away. It’s a wonder a person can do any business in a park. However, one must not complain because the rent was very low and the weather was good, especially with the breeze blowing gently on our faces. It took a young ‘girl hobo’ to bring order back to the office—‘it’s not cool behavior guys,’ she kept repeating.

Music and business in Sante Fe Plaza....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Wimp Prevails

Yes, our esteemed editor, is a WIMP! I am petrified of lightning and have been for as long as I can remember. Today, really tested me.

Driving to the trailhead at the Santa Fe Ski area, the dark clouds were building and my thoughts were on anything but the hike ahead. Jeff turned to me and said, “so glad I packed my jacket”. “Oops” I replied, "the sun was shining so brightly when we left this morning that I decided to leave it behind to lighten your backpack”. My intensions were good, I thought. “Oh well”, I countered, “we have our rain poncho’s in our backpacks.” I knew that I had done wrong.

If I am so scared of lightning, why did I continue this steep 3.5 mile journey up the mountain. I kept asking myself the same question but nevertheless, continued up.

About ½ way, it started to rain a little. I dug deep into my backpack looking for my rain poncho. “Oops! (again!). No poncho. I hauled out the emergency blanket that looked like the poncho packet. Said ponchos were still in our suitcase at the Inn. I really had no credibility now and felt like hiding my shamed face behind the nearest tree.

The sun disappeared, the clouds got darker and the thunder loomed closer…and up we went. No way we could give up the summit now! 2½ hours later, after a tricky and strenuous climb, we finally broke the snow and tree line and headed for the top. It was truly spectacular. We had a 360 degrees view, although I have to admit, my sights were rather set on the large, dark clouds overhead

Jeff wanted to stay and take it all in, appreciate how far we had come and to see the magnificent views. However, by now I was a nervous wreck. No chance I was hanging around. We took a couple of pictures and I high-tailed it back down on the path as fast as my legs could carry me. Now this is a tricky function, as there are tree stumps, roots, rocks of varying sizes to navigate and a not-so-easy path to follow. But I motored down with Jeff reluctantly on my heels. He is always the leader as he is a great path and snake spotter. But not this time. I was first as you can see in the picture.

And then it came…… the lightning bolt just shot out of the sky followed about a second later, with the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard. I felt like I had been shot. It was SO close. I screamed, covered my head and was just about to have a panic attack when Jeff induced me to calm down and said there was nothing we could do, except turn our thoughts heavenwards. And that is exactly what I did as we descended as fast as our legs could take us – back to the safety of our car in record time. Anyone needs any running records broken, just call on me with a bolt of lightning.

Joyous Humility

Simultaneously on top of the world and humbled

We set off on our third hike in a row in the Santa Fe Mountains, at the ski area. We believe this hike and strenuous climb is the highlight of the current trip. Then again, that’s not important. We gained 2,300 feet over 3.5 miles, one-way. Most of the trail was a steady gain except for a couple of very steep sections. The interesting part is that we overlooked Nambe Lake from an elevation 1,000 feet above or at nearly 13,000 feet. If you remember, we sent pictures on Wednesday with Jen and me at lake level. I remember looking up from the water surface and wondering about the mountains above. Our wonderings were satisfied today.

Unfortunately, a thunderstorm struck when we reached the summit, forcing us to limit our stay. Lightning flashed directly above and our editor, as courageous as she is, wisely bolted. We now have an editor without a computer and red pen. For the latter, we are thankful.

When we stood at the summit and looked out into the world, we were dumbstruck. It was an awesome sight that made us feel very small and, sad to say, insignificant. It is amazing to be confronted with a situation that takes the breath away because of its beauty and magnitude while also leaving one as humble as a ‘shul mouse’. We write often about the beauty we see in Hashem’s world because it is a fact. Whenever one feels important about oneself, it might be a good idea to climb to the top of the world and change one’s perspective…a little. (Perhaps that’s why I need to do this that often.) In the one photograph attached, I literally felt that I was standing on top of the world. It was not so much an issue of height but rather the position.
Editor begins descent as storm erupts

We love the order, beauty, and the regeneration of nature’s cycle—we glimpse a tiny bit of the Architect’s ways. It’s never untidy, even when the trees lie across the paths, the grass is not cut or the flowers run wild. It is very attractive, always, and seems so…natural.
Trail viewed from side

We feel fortunate that we are seeing these miracles daily—it gives us a different perspective of the world, a vision of things to come. B’H.
Thank you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Changing Principles

Not a 'rock'ing chair

Jenni at peak in Santa Fe

Our editor breaks the pattern finally. We advance from the standard 7-mile hike to the 8-mile climb. We are happy with the ‘baby-steps’ approach. We might even be happier had she reduced the length rather than increased it. However, we are very satisfied with the efforts of our editor—she knows how to get our ‘juices’ flowing. Besides, we are the big strong male figure and should act accordingly.

We are still in Santa Fe and commenced the hike from St John’s College Campus. This is part of the third oldest college in America, dating back well before our editor’s time, the late 17th century. We know we take a chance at her expense, from time to time, but we are just rebelling against the authority of the ‘harsh red pen’. We also are a bit worried about the rolling of the eyes by our editor. We have concerns that her lenses are about to pop out any minute because of her eye movements.

The trail commences in a relaxed manner and we think our editor has committed her first error of judgment. Within minutes however, we begin to ‘eat our words’ as the gradient turns more acute. We climb 2300 feet. We are developing the feeling a foot is getting longer than twelve inches. Thereafter, it only gets tougher but it is a wonderful climb as we are on the cliff edge for a good part of the way. The views cover the whole of the city--they are magnificent. It is quite amazing to look down on the other mountains that are high themselves. From the summit, we are able to peer at Colorado. As we had just spent a week there, we did not look too hard. Besides, we have learned it’s rude to stare.
What a feeling at the top

We are also pleased to find the first hike in New Mexico that introduced the ‘switchback’. It made it a little easier and we hope this is a developing trend. We look over at our editor who is perched on the cliff edge. We admire her courage and growth. We also think how she censored an article we wrote recently. We are not bitter about it at all, we are above such pettiness…well, maybe only a little bit. We thought it captured our essence. Apparently, we were wrong. We said we are going ahead against her wishes. ‘If you do then there will be a change in arrangements around here,’ she replied. ‘Like what?’ we asked while thinking everything is about change these days. ‘You will find yourself sleeping on the floor,” she answered.
“That’s not change we can believe in”—we are too soft for the floor and too much in love to miss the opportunity to share the same bed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Beautiful Tuesday in SantaFe, NM

“Am I having fun yet?” I kept asking myself as I struggled up the steep, winding series of switchbacks. They seemed endless. The hot sun baked my skin as I plodded onwards and upwards, breathing heavily. It was a solid 3-mile climb to the saddle, and another mile to reach the summit of Atalaya Mountain.

At last! – My answer had to be “yes”. It was definitely worth the effort and the sweat.

To look out at the whole city of Santa Fe some 2300 feet below, and Colorado in the distance, to see many varying peaks of the tree studded Jemez mountain range in the distance - mountains that we looked up to at the start, we were now looking down upon. It was beautiful. It was outstanding.

A time to rest, ponder, drink and take pictures – and then to make our way back, downhill, Baruch Hashem! Another great hike, another wonderful day.

Red Cows and Herrings

We are in Santa Fe, a city much smaller than we envisioned. Nevertheless, it is the biggest we have seen in New Mexico. In fact, we have not seen many people or towns since we arrived a week ago. It seems a great number of people remained in ‘Old Mexico’ or have emigrated to Arizona and California. The city is filled with art, artists, galleries and restaurants. Outside the city, there are mountains, trees, lakes and rivers. It is a nice combination, something for everyone or at least for us.
Today our editor chose a hike that culminates at Lake Nambe just short of seven miles, but rated strenuous by the experts. The climb, in the beginning and for the last half-mile, was so steep it meant that we gained elevation at a rate of about 1800 feet per mile over those parts. This is serious stuff. I felt so bad for our editor. She is no longer a young woman and the climb must have been exhausting. However, she is showing a ‘lot of guts’. We attribute this to eating too well on the trail. It seems the ‘thin air’ at 12,000 feet is not working for her.
Last Shabbos, we read about the red heifer. Here you read about the ‘red herring’. The former is about truth, the latter is a decoy, a ‘fishy story’. It is how our editor’s other-half (me) hides the truth. Today, our editor was in outstanding form. Her courage and tenacity to ‘mow-down ‘those mountains took me by surprise. She was awesome and more. Unfortunately, I spent too much time whining about the trail. Whatever I wrote in the previous paragraph was with a ‘forked-tongue’ or I should write, ‘a twisted keyboard’. She outlasted me hands-down, her ‘flat-tummy’ included.
We discussed the problems of the trail. Last week we mentioned that the ‘New Mexicans’ do not grasp the concept of ‘switch-backs’. We don’t know whether it is because they don’t like the double-S shape or they are in a hurry to finish the job. Whatever it is, we find the trail is brutal in places. It has stones, soil and rocks and goes straight up. Each step has to be thought through carefully. They also don’t make bridges to cross the streams. However, we are not unreasonable hikers; we make our own plans for crossing water. Our other problem is that the upper thigh is strained. We cannot understand the reason for this. What have we done that could possibly cause injury? We think maybe while driving the car, we pushed the accelerator down too quickly. Who knows?
When we reached the summit finally—it seemed to be a moving target—we spent time admiring the beautiful surround and small lake. I repeat. It is beautiful. One achieves a state of mind that is difficult to explain or comprehend. Much of the time, we feel completely isolated ; there is usually no human around for miles. It is almost like being lost ‘in the middle of nowhere’.
In order to cross the lake and sit in the sun, we had to negotiate the water and ‘the bog’. Some people find this word distasteful. We promise you, walking in it is far less pleasant. Since we began traveling, we have been working on our language skills. We find we are now multilingual. Depending on our mood, we may refer to it as Ha’bog if we wish to speak Hebrew or Le Bog, De Bog, El Bog, Der Bog—it doesn’t matter, it’s all the same to us.
It was a wonderful afternoon of climbing and whining—we find whining is good for one, but unfortunately, only for the whiner. We hope to be better tomorrow…but there’s a lot to be said for a ‘good whine’.