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.

Friday, May 31, 2019

40.10 Nepal: Out and about: Of mountains, valleys, city life and local culture.

The Buddhas welcome people to temple.

Even going to temple is a climb.

Animals play an important role in the world although in certain circles, a political group purports to care, but wishes to rid the world of bovine creatures. Sounds like a lot of hot air. Be that as it may, Jen wasn't that happy with one of those creatures this week as we hiked around Fewa Lake in the large and busy second city, Pokhara. As we returned from our turnaround point, we noticed a pair of cows standing part-way in the main road that passes the lake. Cows resting or walking in and along roads is far from an unusual sight. We are quite accustomed to these domestic animals as we meet and deal with many cows in nearly each country we visit. Cows are usually passive but inquisitive, hardly interrupting their days of grazing to give us the time of day. It's the bulls that have given us the odd scare, typical males. This pair was different, particularly, the one that had been scratching its neck against a pole. We could relate to being itchy and the method of relief.

I strode past the cow, giving my usual friendly (silly) greeting including regards from home when I heard a moan and turned to see Jenni stumble. The cow butted her thigh, bruising it. It was a first—we've never encountered aggression from a cow before, a bull, yes. I made a terrible mistake after checking to ensure Jen was not injured seriously, shooed the animal away and proceeded to suggest she be more aggressive toward cows and animals when they appeared ready to pounce. I thought this to be solid advice following my check on her well-being. I learned that I had blown it—I should have offered much more sympathy, less advice. Far more important (essential) to provide excessive 'oohs and ahs' mixed with sympathy, understanding and if one can force a few tears, so much the better. (Continued below...)

A favorite, at dawn: Ama Dablam from Tengbuche as the low sun hits the exposed part of peak.

After a couple of hours on trail: Lunch. Down the mountain, across the bridge, down to the river, across it and up the mountain to the tea-house in the distance. How about we skip lunch and get a ride instead?

'This is my space!'

'Fine. You have the space, I'll eat the berries.'

Standing at base camp. By now, those fellows together might have summitted, perhaps failed to summit or be one or more that never made it back.

Jen crosses another river (one of the highest, if not the highest altitude in the world), one of her 'favorite activities'.

I think the mountains are 'this wide'. These peaks 'knock us out'. Just gorgeous.

"We'd like a dozen toilet rolls. Do you take American Express?" (The trustworthy Dipak of 'Hiking Nepal' behind me).

A more compact view of Everest, at rear, and Lhotse on the right. These icons never fail to reach emotional hotspots deep inside one.

The following night,
we sat in an outdoor restaurant drinking tea while watching the activity on a main road of the city. Cars passed, scooters and motor bikes raced in and out of the main flow, pedestrians filled the sidewalks and then Jen exclaimed, "I've just watched two cows ambling along the main road without a herdsman, weaving in the traffic casually and the motorists take it in their stride." This occurs quite frequently and apparently without collisions so what's the problem. Often, we see these creatures standing in main roads without a care in the world. Within our first hour in Kathmandu, on the way in from the airport, we noticed what looked like a large bull covering most of a sidewalk. Obviously, a statue we surmised. Wrong. Obviously, a bull taking a break from … who knows?

During daylight hours, the dogs are quiet and either roam about the streets or lay about the sidewalks looking, to be frank, dead. However, this changes once the sun sets. A new dynamic develops, one which is frustrating to say the least. We still don't understand why the locals accept it. It occurs in many countries. A cacophony of noise arises, making it difficult if not impossible to sleep. The dogs bark continuously. They are usually encouraged by a couple of leaders. We heard one the other night that did not appear to need to breathe between barks—it was as if he could let go and maintain one long pause-less howl. It's horrible and the owners/neighbors don't care or are not bothered. Maybe it's they who are fortunate and do not even hear the noise. By 3:45 each morning, just in case a person has had a fulfilling sleep and rest, the roosters take over and sound the morning alarm. A little later, motorists resume their frequent tooting, making it a less than holy trinity. Life sure has some unnecessary challenges.

On the way back
from dinner, we noticed a goat on the sidewalk tied to a pole. On the ground within easy reach, it had access to a healthy looking pile of green vegetables from which it sated itself. The goat looked, should we have stood in its shoes, as if life could not get any better. Unfortunately for the goat, it probably did not understand what awaited it. Little did it know that it stood outside a butchery. Life provides some tough breaks. They say 'One man's meat is another person's goat'—kinda gets your goat, doesn't it?

Notwithstanding the above, but including most parts of it, we find ourselves walking about Nepal even when struggling up some of the tough inclines, with a sense of wonder, almost observing the history of the world 'live', and perhaps most of all, feeling bemused. All this is with full respect for the inhabitants and especially, the Sherpas and porters. Nevertheless, the pace, attitude, care and style of the people is unique, certainly nothing like that experienced in the West. Besides much of what we have written, an example illustrating the point may be grasped from the following experiences: Restaurants offer very large choices on their menus. Jen used to wonder how such offerings were stored. The other day we ordered a green salad, on another day I ordered a Coke Zero and Jen ordered tuna. On each occasion, after waiting a rather long period for service, we noticed the waiter returning from outside with salad greens (whole lettuce and cabbage), a Coke and can of tuna respectively. It certainly indicates the food is freshly made … or made to order.

At a peak across from Everest, 'chewing the fat' with 'Mr. Santos', the affectionate name of this sweet young man (19).

Jen about to make a steeper climb on a good path, sharper than the one she thought may have been the last of the day.

A scene alongside base camp, Khumbu Ice Fall.


Jenni and Jeffrey

The weather turned a little south. Harsh but attractive.

Sunlit peaks and objects: The miracle of the sun, particularly at the day's extremes.

A random selection of sunrises and sunsets. Unfortunately, only a few, without much thought.

Grindelwald, Switzerland.

Mount Olympus, Greece.

Keurboomstrand, South Africa.


Iguazu Falls, Argentina.

The Frenchman, Nevada.

El Chalten, Argentina.

Kelso Dunes, California.

Sierra Nevada, California.

Mono Lake, Sierra Nevada.

Kenmo Lake, Himeville, South Africa.

Birds of a feather, Page, Arizona.

El Chalten, Argentina.

Big Island, Hawaii.

'Mount Doom', New Zealand.

Iron Mountain, Poway, California.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.

Sani Pass, Lesotho.

Lake Mead, Nevada.

Mount Everest Game Farm, Free State, South Africa.

Arizona from Nevada.

Senj, Croatia.

San Diego County.

Devil's Throat, Iguazu, Argentina.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Monday, May 27, 2019

40.09 Nepal: Not just a place, a period and experience. Featuring tall snow-covered peaks and no lesser sights and sites.

A worthy tribute to what we term "Old-fashioned heroes, true heroes, a real man."

TENZING and lazarowsomething obviously wrong with the matching. On the right, Ama Dablam, Peak XV (Everest) to the left, covered in cloud.

A person may view Nepal in at least two ways: One is to use a western lens, the other, an adventurous eye. The difference is enormous.

The former, a comparison with what one is accustomed to will prove deeply disappointing, if not a challenge. Why? The country is poor; it shows. Housing, roads, sanitation, construction, transport, and on and on is so far behind western levels that many people would fear for their survival, even following a visit to a toilet. However, when one refocuses and prioritizes, looking through the adventurous eye, a different picture materializes. It is a country that does provide modern conveniences and gadgets but also allows a person to return to living and connecting to the land. Furthermore, one can travel back in time and experience life before it entered an ultra-modern age. Funnily enough, our ancestors whom many believe were quite primitive and some even think, backward, had the potential to live a wholesome life despite doing without the amazing array of conveniences available today. Convenience often clashes with ‘what’s good for one’.

We don't doubt that after dealing with the inconveniences, inefficiency and hygiene issues, a person could feel the need for some material comforts. From time-to-time, we've had those feelings but fortunately, for brief moments only. The uplifting and cleansing feeling of a hot shower (out on the mountains) is far greater than any regular shower one experiences. Scarcity and appreciation are great soulmates. Although we've not differentiated between the mountains and low laying cities, one should expect less for more at higher altitudes. The big cities and towns are at low elevations and are home to the big populations.

We walked into a teahouse along the Mardi Himal trek, a wonderful experience, that is, the trek. The altitude was close to 12,000 feet. We noticed power in our room: what a treat. Two beds filled the space plus a light switch and electrical socket. There wasn’t a whole lot more. The light and power made this room superior to others—we felt fortunate, if not spoiled. In addition, the light worked. Terrific. Later that evening, we discovered that turning on the light switch was a futile exercise. When I explained to a local that the light was not necessary during the day but essential at night, he thought I had a good sense of humor.

Water stops
flowing on a regular basis although there is plenty of rain. We tried to keep our bottles filled whenever possible. We also purified water obtained from any faucet and utilized that source of water often. Toilet flushing was a real challenge and one must hope water is available so a manual flushing routine can be implemented. Toilet tissue is something one should not leave home without when setting off in the morning... or any other time of the day. It's available at every store, though but priced on the expensive side. As is the custom in a number of countries, used tissue paper should not be flushed but rather, placed in a bin alongside the toilet. One should also not offer the left hand for shaking or touching as apparently this is the hand of choice. Oh, we poor right-handers. We wonder if people ever cheat and use the stronger hand.

Here comes, Jen, in spectacular places.

And there she goes again.

A particularly tough but short climb mid-way through the day's hike. Always beautiful though, Jen and the mountains.

"I'm so embarrassed … you've caught me in a compromising situation."

Illustrates the steep cliffs above Namche Bazaar. It was a stiff climb to reach the town itself followed by another steep climb to an Everest viewpoint. As we were acclimating, we returned to the town and climbed again on the following day. Apparently, it makes sense, particularly for the lungs. We've reached the age of extreme body-parts specialization.

Lucky to have had so many clear views of Everest and Lhotse. This is soon after leaving Kyangjuma.

After a long trek, a well earned rest ... for these buffalo in the pool. Perhaps a reason why we drank more Coke, less water.

"Hi baby, are you free tonight...maybe now?"

This might be considered "excessive exuberance" but she did say 'YES'.

Moving up Kala Patthar with an eye or two on Peak XV, (Mount Everest), just before clouds swamped the world's icon.

We finally
left the summit of a local hike, the location of the Japanese Stupa, and instead of going down to the lake for a boat to cross the water, our hike commencement point, we again walked down the other side of the mountain through a few, small settlements. The views of the city of Pokhara were quite stunning along the route. The area was remote but it did have a rough gravel road, providing access to traffic. However, when we neared the bottom of the mountain and noticed a large bus negotiating the path up, we thought we had then seen everything. In fact, the vehicles are put to a test daily as they negotiate the mountainous roads which are mostly, in poor condition.

We then entered another part of the city of Pokhara, lined with shops along dusty roads, and decided to leap on a bus. We often like to take a city bus a couple of times in new places, especially in the poorer countries, as they provide a unique experience. Just as in Cuzco, Peru, the driver focuses on the road (we hoped) and the conductor puts on a show. He carries a pile of bank notes in his hand and shouts, cajoles and tries to entice people to jump on the bus. (Uniforms are not worn). There are no formal stops, but the driver will halt should he notice people who might like a ride. There's much action and conversation occurring and maybe negotiation, too. Lack of language hampers our understanding, unfortunately. Anyway, the price of a ride is embarrassingly cheap, and one does not have to negotiate as with a taxi driver. It was also one of the rare occasions we ended up tipping the driver and conductor of a municipal bus. The driver made a small detour to show us how to reach our destination efficiently. Where else could something like that occur? One gets entertainment, a ride, perspective and without real cost.

We finally made it back after a delightful outing which filled us with exercise, good sights, entertainment and unhealthy food but who cares about the latter. Hmm! We 'lost' it up on the mountain-top café. We are fortunate that nearly each day on Hike-about brings us experiences beyond our expectations and often, beyond belief. But the real highlight of the day: After washing our clothes, Jen found a washline on the roof of the building. Now we're talking luxury and convenience. It doesn't get better than that.

I still recall the weary feeling as we head for home, at least 4 days to go. I rebelled and sat for ten minutes alongside the shed ahead. Tough guy!

Dazzling scene as 'tiny Jen' turns her back on the massive peaks as we approach Pheriche.


Jenni and Jeffrey