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.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

60.03 Slovakia: Sedlo Ostravo Popranska, a testing hike and day.

From a walk in the village, we view the peak on the right, the objective of this hike.

As we continue to deal with the 'heatwave' in Europe, we find ourselves becoming cold and wet on the trails. Go Figure! (Robyn L)
You can almost feel the heat. Fortunately, it's a 'dry heat' as people living in hot areas outside Florida are inclined to say.
...but worth the views. The hotel is over an hour ascent from the trailhead and it's a further hour to the destination peak.
  The weather is always a popular topic of conversation, particularly at the extremes. Europe and the USA seem to be suffering under severe heat waves. During the week prior to departing from San Diego, it was awfully hot, particularly away from the narrow coastal strip that is usually ideal. People warned us that we would be traveling from the 'frying pan into the fire'. We suppose it’s a clumsy analogy but then we are not that deft with words. We arrived in Prague, Czechia to a warm welcome but with weather that surprised us to the cool side. Maybe we weren’t in Europe after all. Then we headed east toward our destination where we will remain for twenty-five days, our first stop being in Bratislava, Slovakia, for an hour. It was warm but as that was not our ultimate destination, it made no difference. 

  Four hours later, we arrived in the village of Strba. It’s a cool town in location, atmosphere and weather. On our first hiking day, we wore winter clothes and got soaked by rain (this blog). The following day we enjoyed sunshine but cold winds. On the next day, we had light rain and very cool temperatures, once again wearing winter clothing. We are expecting more of the same, maybe worse, over the next couple of days. We checked the calendar carefully to ensure we had not mixed up the summer and winter periods. To the people who thought we’d be hiking in heat, kindly think of sending us a couple of sweaters, please. We have Maude Alge sending replacement baggage following the snapping of a handle which we mentioned recently. I like blue and Jen hates yellow; kindly bear that in mind. 

  This text began about the heat waves being experienced in Europe while we are shivering somewhere in Europe. It proves that you cannot believe everything you hear or read. More wisdom flowing. Heck, we’ve hit a hotspot so to speak. Here’s an idea. You want to get out of the heat this summer. Join us in Slovakia. By the way, should you not mind, kindly bring along a few sweaters for us…size medium for both and remember the color issue for Jen. 

The target as we get closer and then came the heavier rain, the rocks were slippery and reluctantly, we turned back. Nice excuse, or 'bangbroeke'.
A brief break in the weather on our return.
Each step has to be careful. In fact, Jen hurt her back without even knowing the cause or where it occurred.
A rock slide area. We just struggled to avoid slipping on the wet rocks.
On slower days, we tend to count the trees. Unfortunately, after reaching 2.1 million, I lost count and gave up. Another quitter action on the day.
Jen makes her way in the earlier part of the trail but always over rocks and stones. Far from ideal.
Had the weather been better, this is the sight we would have experienced.

When we were a little younger (and braver) in surprisingly good weather. (2019)


Jenni and Jeffrey


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

60.01 & 60.02: Prague, Czechia, a city perspective: Night and Day, day and night plus adventures we'd rather not face.

Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathedral and two wanderers in classical city wonder(land).
  Jen tells me we are one of the last of her friends to visit Czechia, more specifically, the City of Prague. Well, we eventually arrived in what we would term an old-world setting, classical, modern city. The views from wherever one stands are at times breathtaking especially as one takes in the architecture. It's magnificent. Whether the insides are comfortable and modern we are unaware but the facades are truly uplifting, inspirational and provide an awful lot of historical information. Perhaps the flow of water through the city, as in many places around the world, adds tremendous benefits in the form of visuals, transport, perhaps cooling properties and entertainment. 

  The Vltava River is attractive, some 240 miles long, of meaningful width, flowing through the city to make wonderful impressions. When the sun sets, another facet reveals itself in the form of reflections and nightlife. Admittedly, some forms of entertainment are not for everyone but there is always something for those who prefer not to see the surface become a wet discothèque. Should I have a criticism of the management of the aesthetics along the river, I would suggest more lighting be placed across the bridges. This feature has been perfected in at least one city we have visited, namely on the Danube through Budapest.  

  Our short stay of 5 nights was a link between San Diego and the High Tatras of Slovakia. After an enjoyable period in Czechia, it was clear that our hearts and everything attached thereto belong in the wilderness, clearly not the cities, no matter how distinguished they might be.

Bridge(s) over calm waters.
Classic and modern contrasts. 
'Lean on me' as the late sun hits the spot.
The former chairman (general secretary) of the Communist Party left in a hurry, after losing his seat in parliament to the Green Party. Did he leave a statement or was it merely carelessness?  
  Water not only provides life, but beauty, too. The Vltava River dominates the city.
Many times I'm grateful for not being young. Watching the screaming youngsters on the disco-boat was one of those times.
Petrin Tower protrudes in the background with domes and spires in the foreground.

If not very deep, the river is wide and long, flowing some 250 miles.
The tower in the background, we understand, was completed a short while before the collapse of the communist regime. It could be said that it was the final or high straw of a dictatorship. 
More spires, towers, domes and of course, buildings. 
The Charles Bridge, a major tourist spot.
  We’re supposedly a big girl and boy by now. So, we mention the trip from Prague, Czechia to Strba, Slovakia as an illustration of some of the challenges we face. We seek not sympathy but won’t turn it down, but rather mention that our life is not a bed of roses all the time. There is the occasional day when the levels of pain and frustration hit some high notes and we suppose, thorns. 

  After 5 days in Prague, we found hills but no mountains. Therefore, it was time to set out for the High Tatras. Just the name conjures both altitude and we suppose, attitude. 

  Both of us slept not a wink the night before the trip, a first…and second. In fact, Jen literally did not sleep. We set off for the bus terminus, arriving at 7:30am by foot, heavily laden with baggage. The bus ride of 5 hours was good, arriving in Bratislava, Slovakia before 1pm. The terminus is below an incredible shopping mall—world class, in our opinion. We searched for a taxi which became an ordeal. The first challenge was finding an exit from this massive place. After asking questions, using the local language of course, we were no wiser as we were sent to different parts of the building lugging luggage. Unfortunately, a brand-new bag snapped at the handle. Don’t you just love an extra challenge. We encouraged each other to hold it together: Not the bag but rather, our minds and temperaments. 

  We found an exit and continued to walk while seeking a driver. Our phone is not connected which knocked out possibilities for Lyft or Uber. Eventually, we identified one taxi driver receiving payment from his customer. Unfortunately, he was booked but after a further twenty minutes, we found another after a longish walk. He dropped us off at the airport. Why the airport? Surely, you don’t think we had a tantrum and decided to depart. Not yet! The plan was to arrive at the bus station, take a taxi to the airport at which time we would collect our previously booked rental car. Aha! Fortunately, that worked out smoothly until our GPS decided to play silly games. 

  We got lost a few times, one reason being is that no matter how many times we requested and allowed for using toll roads, the system refused to acknowledge our instruction. By this time, we were frustrated. The journey was supposed to be 3.25 hours to Strba but the GPS wanted to drive for well over 5 hours. Our hosts, people we have stayed with before, were expecting us based upon the 3-hour journey. Yikes. We have been locked out before, not a pleasant experience although we have always managed to sort such problems successfully. There we were, unrested, frustrated, facing a journey of say 4 hours to an unlimited amount, hot, hungry and lost. 

  Added to the circumstances, it’s not that we are that familiar with the country although we have visited twice before. However, on each occasion we drove from different starting points, that is, Serbia via Hungary, and Poland respectively. It makes a difference. We pushed on and fortunately, the tables turned. The highway traveling became familiar, the GPS stood down from a previous rebellious position and Strba eventually came into our sights. Unfortunately, it will occur in the future but that’s a price we pay. It would be helpful should we have a little more wisdom but…

Jenni and Jeffrey

Monday, July 17, 2023

59.07 San Diego: An unusual (anniversary) day at Mission Trails Park with an introduction of a few photographs that gave meaning to Covid-2021.

Before commencing this final blog from a just completed stay in San Diego, we'd been looking at some experiences from the Covid era and could not help marveling over some of the beauty and challenges enjoyed in 2021. The memories were such that we needed, not just to share them, but also to bring them to the forefront in order to enjoy them at ease with a mere click of a mouse. Here are a few snaps. Thereafter, the latter part deals with life on the trails and in the semi-wilderness on an unusual day. 

One of my all-time favorite shots, Jester Trail, Yuma, Arizona.
Two from Berryessa Lake in Napa. Remarkable.
A visit to Mount Shasta region (Castle Craggs), California.
Del Valle Lake, Livermore, California.
Morro Bay, California.
Catalina Island, California. 
  Heading to Lizard Peak, Lake Havasu, Arizona. 
Salt Lake City, Utah.
Kelso Dunes, California.
Grandeur Peak, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Cardiff Trail, Utah.
Black Butte, Shasta. 
  Roosevelt Lake, Arizona.
Scenes on Mount Shasta, California. 
  Picacho between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.
I remember July 14th for a number of reasons. One being that it’s Bastille Day, a French commemoration holiday. In fact, last year we visited France and hiked on and over the famous Pyrenees Mountains, a time of delight and as always, some sweat. We spent Bastille Day in the southern part of the country and found the festivities to be subdued but nice. We like quiet at night. Jen is itching to get back to France but we have to deal with the other side of Europe first, the central/eastern part. That commences later in the week.

  When we awakened this morning, we knew we would be heading out for a trail in Mission Hills Regional Park. Jen undertook to do whatever I wanted, as she said: "It's your special day'. I had suggested we go shopping but she would not hear of it—so much for 'special day'. I had thought of a visit to Mission Bay Shopping Center. After all, what could be nicer than walking around a mall looking for items that one neither needs nor wants. Apparently, many people enjoy that activity and I’m clearly one of them. However, Jen was having none of that. She mentioned she would save that activity for a far more important time—her birthday. Alas, there we were, having one alternative remaining and so we headed out for Mission trails instead on another hot day. Fortunately, we commenced at 7am at which time the weather was superb. By 7:05, it was less superb. 

  The perfection of nature. Only one lonely plant (this species) seen in the whole park thus far. Yet it survives, in fact, flourishes. 
Because I was denied a day of shopping, I acted a little testily by selecting the toughest trail in the park which amounted to a number of add-ons, extra climbs and all without shade. Even brunch took place in a hotspot. For younger persons, it does not mean the position provided internet access. Later, Jen happened to mention that while she agreed to do anything I wished on the day, she forgot to qualify it with a little subjectivity. ‘I meant to add: Within reason,’ she informed me, too late. 

  The morning, the 5 hours in the park, was truly wonderful. I even had her concur, while twisting her arm. We discovered a new section of Mission Trails, well new for us, as the trail has been there since inception. While the mountains are not high, the trails we selected (not just one), allowed us to climb then drop down only to ascend again. This occurred frequently giving us close on 3,000 feet of elevation gain and maybe more than 9 miles of hiking. Now you might understand why I would have preferred shopping in an air-conditioned mall, a bagel store at hand and easy access to a Pepsi Zero. Heck, I really don’t think I’m difficult to please. I even enjoy a bagel plain. 

  We’ve often said that each day on the trails we know we’ll experience something new or different. What a fascinating world does nature provide for all of us. One only has to keep the eyes open to notice the many opportunities that abound. It’s an exciting concept; it requires a little application and of course, a need to get into the wilderness or at least, semi-wilderness. Let’s begin (eventually) with an example. 

  On Tuesday, I received an email from Mark Michelow of Johannesburg. I have mentioned Mark before. We’ve known each other for well over 60 years. I would describe him using but one word: Gentleman. Anyway, Mark asked whether we come across snakes in the wilderness. I provided a brief summary of our experiences and something in my mind told me that we would be seeing a snake soon. I think it’s another part of the mystery of the world—almost like mentioning something which then acts as a catalyst. 

  Three days later, more than an hour into the hike, I noticed a slight movement 4 feet ahead of me. At that stage, my left leg was in motion and would probably land less than two feet from the object. Effectively, I was in midstride. While I had not been particularly alert, suddenly, everything changed. I tried to limit my stride by bringing the foot down closer to me while attempting to get my rear end to move to the rear rather than forward. During this short period, we’re talking a split second, the object became clearer. I then realized I could update Mark further regarding his question. (See picture below).
 Hopefully, Mark will ask about our past experiences of buckets of ice-cream on the next occasion. 

  When we arrived at the North Fortuna Peak, Jen suggested she take a picture of her boy on this particular date (time rather than activity). I climbed onto a rock and prepared for the said photograph. 
Jen: Could you pull your tummy in. 
Me: I am. 
Jen: Not good enough. Try harder. 
Me: How’s that? 
Jen: Not good. I think you’re getting fat. Are you snacking behind my back? 
Me: Of course not. I think it’s a posture issue. 
Jen: Keep your head up. Back straight. 
Me: Yes, Ma’am. 
Jen: Haven’t you a better pair of shorts? Are those 'love handles I'm seeing?' The outfit makes you look like…well, the pants don’t really fit. 
Me: That’s why I wanted to go shopping today. 
Jen: Would you mind smiling? Pretend you’re happy to be with me. 
Me: Could you not just get on with it. Click the button…please. 
Jen: I’m trying my best, you know. I’d hate people to see the way you look through the lens right now. 
Me: Maybe we should forget about the picture. 
Jen: Don’t be silly. I’m really keen to show you off to my friends…well, both of them. 
Me: After nearly 49 years of marriage and 5 years of courtship, I realize I don’t understand you. 
Jen: Good. That’s the way it should be. Now try to focus on the camera and please smile. Wait a sec. Okay. I have a solution. Try this…(picture below) 
We then set off for the saddle as Mrs. SCL (Jen) announced she was hungry. It meant that we would be eating over an hour earlier than usual. I mentioned something to her 'quite innocently' about this change in schedule. That’s when I was told of my new nickname. It's now AJ. 
  “Anne and Harvey Brenner have a grandson who is called ‘AJ’”, I remarked. 
  When she explained what it stood for, I was less impressed with Mrs. SCL, (Short-Cut-Laz). Compared with my new name, (Anal Jeffrey), I thought she did okay. I repented quickly and after walking for ten minutes following our meal, I decided I ought to do the proper thing. After all, I’m…well…forget it. I offered her a snack bar, the healthy kind. I still don’t know whether I offended her because I was offering more food and apparently, making a point, or else, she expected a tastier desert. Obviously, my earlier kisses had not satisfied her. 

  As we reached further down the mountain, we noticed a massive truck traveling erratically on a service road under the powerlines. This was followed by the arm of the crane lifting a man toward the top of the wires and pylons while he held a large hose. We watched in awe as he seemed to be spraying the heavy, thick wires with water. It was an unusual sight. In addition, we received sprays of water, cooling both our frayed nerves and tension as well as body heat. (I think those earlier kisses were kicking in, so to speak.) What were these guys from the power company doing? We thought about it and realized they were testing an incredible new concept that could revolutionize the world. (See photo below).
  By using a new technology, "Bi", (‘A’) has apparently been taken already), both water and electricity can be transmitted/transported down the same line. How about that! They were delivering water through cables in a manner that even we could not envisage or fathom. This means that in the near future, it will no longer be necessary to use piping to receive water. The infrastructure will require only powerlines which will handle both electricity and water. Just as telephone lines are no longer necessary, the need for a separate water system will fall away. In addition, the water will be hot because of its proximity to the current making it sterilized as well. Although Jen and I drink water from the faucet happily, this may be a death knell to the bottled water companies. We're advising our clients...sorry, friends, to sell stocks in those undertakings.

  Jen asked, “And what about sewage?” ‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves’, I replied ‘we don’t want to have the powerlines bringing in clean water and power only to be contaminated with returning flushes. 

  Finally, we reached the San Diego River, a mere mile from where we’d parked the car. We had both walked through the river during our first visit to this part of the park. Jen announced that she would like to commemorate the day with a photograph of me walking through the stream, okay, river. She knows I like a challenge although the previous week I had turned her down. The pressure was on. Some may remember when we were in Nepal recently (Click left '(' for blog), we introduced a guidebook for Afrikaans speaking hikers visiting the country. Three of the concepts were that of the ‘Natbroek (wet pants)’ and ‘Bangbroek (scaredy cat)’ and ‘Papbroek (useless, basically). They all amount to the same thing. I thought about my arrogance in criticizing others and decided I ought not to be a hypocrite. Instead, I accepted the challenge and became a ‘Natbroek’ (wet pants), of course, literally. 

Okay, at least I tried.

Bell Falls Lake, Utah.
Could not omit Page, Arizona despite its frequent appearances.
Dog Lake, Utah...and that's it.

Jenni and Jeffrey