To hitchhike or not to hitchhike? (When alone)

Hitchhiking as a woman in a different country is a pretty nerve-racking experience.

My knees were bleeding. My elbow and hands were bruised. My hair was matted and dreadlocked from the wind. I was a mess.

Shaking a little, ready to raise my right arm and stick out my thumb to oncoming traffic on the 395 highway, I did nothing but think of my worried Mother and hope for the best…

Now before I give away the story, let me tell you how I got here.

I’m on a blissful mountain holiday in Mammoth Lakes, California (a town tucked away in the Eastern Sierras. A town that boasts serene lakes, snow peaked mountains and Ansel Adams worthy photography). It’s a snowboarders / bikers / runners’ paradise. One might say it’s, ‘gnarly, dude.’

I’m training for my first triathlon coming up end of June. How blessed am I to do the final few weeks of training in such a place! The views, the altitude, and some great tips from professional athletes who live and train here.

My trickiest element of the triathlon is the bike. Now I’m no dolphin, but so far in training, I have felt more at ease in the water than on two wheels. You see, with running and swimming, it’s just you. All you. In my opinion the bike just gets in my way.

Having said that, the breathtaking rides I’ve had out here on my trusty ‘rental roadie’ with new friends have been nothing but exhilarating fun. It’s clicked, I thought. This is why middle aged men in Lycra are out and about on their bikes so much… it’s bloody fantastic!!!

So, with my new found biking confidence, I’m on a euphoric high after biking the hilly backroads…. after parting ways with my new American pals, I have about an 18 mile ride back to where I’m staying.

(this is how we get to being alone on the 395….)

Cue gale force winds.

Zooming traffic to my left. Open meadows to my right. My knuckles are white and I’m clenching my teeth trying to fight the wind. I take a tiny breather as it softens and finally, my cadence can pick up a bit as the wind basically disappears.

Then out of nowhere a HUGE gust shoves me from the side and whips me right off the bike without even a millisecond to try fight it.

I’M OK – were my first thoughts. Bleeding and scraped but OK.

Thoughts quickly go downhill. Stupid bike. Stupid wind.

Shaking a little, I get up, try to compose myself, but even this is impossible. The wind is now so strong I can’t even stand and hold my bike. I’m not strong or heavy enough and before I even attempt to get back on, I get knocked over again.

Cue sense of humour failure. F***ing bike! F***ing wind!!!

A car pulls over.

A man is driving and the woman to his left says “hey sweetie. You ok? You came down pretty hard there. D’ya need a ride?”

(Think fast, think fast, make good choices, make good choices).

“I’ll be fine. Thank you though. That’s really kind. I’m absolutely fine though.”

The car pulls away.

The wind howls, my body throbs, and I look into the distance at the never ending rolling hills ahead. Bad. Bad. Bad decision. Bad choice.

I knew I didn’t want to get back on the bike. I couldn’t even stand up let alone balance on two wheels. I didn’t want to hitchhike either. I wish I didn’t care, but the fact is if you’re a young woman in a different country, you’ve got to have your wits about you. Make that a young woman who looks about 15. EVEN WORSE.

My thoughts race as blood starts to congeal and I look onto the mountains….

A car pulls over about 50 yards ahead. It then creepily reverses towards me.

The man in the passenger seat gets out first. Then the other man.

My initial thoughts were: This is dodgy. Not ok. Nicht good!

“Need a ride?” Said the older man in a well spoken English accent .

“You having trouble with your bike?” said the other. He was a couple of decades younger, perhaps in his 40s, he had dark skin and an accent I couldn’t make out.

“It’s so windy.” I replied. (Think fast, think fast, make good choices, make good choices). “Where are you heading?” I asked.

“Just up to Mammoth Lakes,” said the older guy. (Good answer).

“Me too….”

He opened the back of the car to see if my bike would fit in. My eyes violently scanned what was in the vehicle. I saw tools and rope. (WEAPONS!?) (probably just hiking equipment… we’re in the mountains). I sneakily took a photo of their number plate. (What good is that going to do? You’ve got no signal, you tit).

I wearily got in the back of the car.

“I’ll just text my friend to let them know I’m getting a ride back.” (Lie).

Thoughts turn to my parents. They would be having such a wobbly right now.

^^^ looking back on all of this now I’m a little ashamed to have so little faith. Turns out these two men were nothing but kind, generous people, wanting to help someone. However, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as we all know, bad things do happen. Horrible things. On this occasion, I’m very lucky to have met the good sort.

We exchanged emails as I wanted to thank them properly and articulate how much it meant to me to have the help and to encounter such kindness. Then after a quick google search I find out they live in Hollywood and he’s a world famous neuroscientist!

I BLOOMING LOVE TRAVEL

Now to spend the rest of the afternoon sourcing anti-sceptic wipes and band-aids…

Visiting Home from Home

My tangled mind woke up at 3am this morning. PANTS. I forgot the pants.

I’m flying to California in a matter of hours and my dearest friend and occasional worst enemy, ‘Life’ has certainly been at a record breaking ‘MANIC’ these last few weeks. My head has been mangled and then buried into thousands of brain compartments – moving house, increasing workload incl evenings and weekends, triathlon training, trying to visit friends but probably failing because everyone else’s heads seem to be playing this juggling (more like ‘struggling’) game of life too…

I digress. My point was I remembered to pack the Tiger Balm (used to soothe sore muscles) yet I forget the very essential – pants.

Now I’ve arrived at the airport, this is the first time I’ve managed to have the time and space to feel excited. Mammoth Lakes (a small mountain town near Yosemite) is my Home from Home. Probably my favourite place in the world. The mountains and the wilderness allow for excitement, danger and physical adventure. Yet it is also the mountains and the wilderness that allow for stillness, peace and adventurous thoughts…

When I’m not hiking or sat outside admiring a tree or a mountain or a bear, I’m lucky enough to be staying with one of my best friends who lives in Mammoth – Joe. (Even with a lovely roof over my head, will still probably be found gazing out the window admiring a tree or a mountain or a bear).

It’s my dream to one day hike the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail, stretching from Mexico to Canada). The PCT would take about 5 months to complete. Mammoth is in fact part of the PCT! I’m only here for two weeks, but hope to have a few days taster of the PCT experience. Maybe in the future I’ll be a super fit Granny and complete my PCT dream during retirement.

Damn it. Forgot the mosquito spray.

But passport, purse, visa is in check. Let’s go!

 

Top tip for cheap travel: check flight compare sites regularly and be beady eyed for deals. My RETURN flight to California was purchased about 3 weeks before. I’m flying direct from Manchester with Thomas Cook and direct flight back too. The grand total was £369 incl 23kg bag allowance and 2 in flight meals. That’s cheaper than a lot of return flights in Europe and it’s over 20hours of flying!

Top tip: try find a hobby you enjoy that’s free. I’ll be spending most of my time out there hiking. Happy days.

When 4 months becomes 7

For some reason, over the last few years, saying ‘yes’ became increasingly difficult. ‘Buy the expensive dress’ – no. ‘Have a one-night-stand’ – no. ‘Go on a walk instead of a run’ – no. For many things, it’s always easier to come up with a thousand reasons not to do things.

Before I set off from home, back in January, one of my goals when travelling was to say ‘yes’ to more things. Being a stubborn little sod, it was difficult at first, but as you can imagine, the power of saying yes became addictive. Each time, endorphins exploded, new adventures were had and new stories were to be told. By saying ‘yes’ you begin to see more, feel more – live more. You realise how narrow-minded and silly you were before.

“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity to do something and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later.”Richard Branson

Saying yes can open doors. Not only does it allow for a fantastic experience, there and then, but it can allow for a snowball effect of positive outcomes. You will probably have hundreds of examples when saying yes to a certain thing, meant that you had a string of good things happen after that. Maybe it was that by saying yes to go ice-skating with your cousin, meant that you met Derek who became your friend and helped you get a job, and at that job, you ended up meeting the love of your life at the company’s Christmas party? My most recent example, started with a certain ‘yes’ last year, but I am still reaping the benefits. Last year I had planned to spend some time in LA. Unfortunately, I felt that I didn’t fit in there very much. A friend, Joe (who, at the time I barely knew) kindly offered that I stay with him, up in the mountains in Mammoth Lakes (near Yosemite). As amazing as that offer was… I couldn’t leave L.A. I had planned to spend 2 weeks there. That was my plan. I couldn’t stray away from the plan. But the reality was, my plan wasn’t right for me. After lots of mmms, errrs and maybes, I eventually said yes to going to the mountains. Guess what? I fell in love with Mammoth and Joe is now one of my best friends. So, fast-forward a year and I am staying with him in Mammoth Lakes for 3 months – writing and altitude training. I am, quite literally, living my dream.

But like all dreams, there comes a point when you have to wake up. And guess what? I am almost at that point. I have been away from home this year for almost 7 months, and in less than a week, I will be flying away from the mountains, towards Leeds Bradford Airport. I’m feeling a mix of emotions and struggling to articulate my current thought process regarding the situation. I think because I feel so at home out here, the concept of leaving for home feels a little unsettling. And it’s a blooming long journey: I will leave Monday evening and not reach Leeds until midday on Wednesday. I repeat, Wednesday.

However, I am comforted by something that Joe said to me: “You’ve got to go in order to come back.”

In addition, never will I forget what my Canadian soul-mate (Anne) who I met in Thailand said to me: “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened.”

 Happy is an understatement. Amongst writing, altitude training, endless hiking in the mountains and stage management, I have also been privileged to try the ‘grapple’ (a grape flavoured apple). Thank you California, you’ve been “totally awesome, dude.”

 

 

He has herpes!?

Visiting the states, or even watching American TV shows back at home, you come to realise that we often have different ways of saying things – whether that be the accent, or because we use completely different words. Of course, we all know the obvious ones – trousers are pants (hilarious), petrol is gas, queue is a line and route is pronounced ‘rowt.’

However since my time here (2 months so far, only 1 month to go!) there have been a few little awkward mishaps, ones that nobody prepared me for, regarding the British / American differences…

Take a dinner party the other week… Now I know that a ‘Pot Luck’ party is where you each bring a dish without conferring, so it will be ‘pot luck’ what you end up eating for dinner. My British ears, however, instead of hearing ‘Pot Luck Party’ heard, ‘Padlock Party.’ My mind was going mad, confused by the concept, worried about being locked up.

Things got worse the other day… I’ve been helping out at Kids’ Summer Adventure Camp for the last month, and the other day, little Landon and I share a special moment. Landon is five years old.

Landon sits next to Kelsie and he shouts, “I’m going to give her herpes!!!”

My eyes widen.

“Excuse me, Landon! What did you say!?” I yell back, horrified.

“I’m going to give her herpes!” he repeats.

Oh. Her piece. 

 He was referring to the biscuit. Or should I say, ‘cookie.’

How amusing. I have enjoyed spending lots of my time with the little ones, more than I thought I would. Before, (in all honesty) I didn’t hate little kids, but I didn’t really like them much either. How things have changed. Now, I’m fascinated.

The conversations you have with them can be comedy gold. Take Sylvie (5): little Sylvie who resembles a miniature Lindsay Lohan (Parent Trap Movie) intelligently picks up that I speak with a different accent. “So where are you from?” she asks.

“I’m from England.”

To which she goes, “Oh! My Aunty Sue is from England. We’ve been to visit her before. Her name is Aunty Sue but, but, but, her friends just call her Sue. Do you know her?”

“Well where in England is she from?”

“She’s from England.”

“Ok…”

“Did you know that we went to England and Bristol and then back to England again.”

“Sylvie, Bristol is in England.”

“We went to both.”

“Just like California is in America, Bristol is in England.”

“No, you weren’t there. We went to both.”

“Ok.”

 

Or I love how they speak about the past sometimes. Here, Landon features again.

“A long time ago, when I was really little. I was really small. I tripped over a soccer ball and I hurted my knee. I was only 4 years old.”

“Really little, huh? How old are old are you now, Landon?”

“Oh, now I’m 5. In three months I’ll be 5 and a half.”

 

Why I don’t have a gym membership

Sometimes I wish that I was a man. Aside from the obvious reasons (faster, stronger, EARNS MORE MONEY) today I am mainly envious of the fact that they can go for a wee standing up.

Today I did 16-mile hike. It’s a tough one – lots of climbs beyond 11,000ft and the high-altitude-sun viciously saps all of the energy that you have. Now usually I don’t put up too much of a fuss about having a piddle / pee / wee wee in the great outdoors – when you gotta go, you gotta go. But my God, today the experience was hellish. Firstly, it was like some kind of fountain or excitable garden hose. I literally have no idea how I had drunk so much liquid? I must have been squatting for a good three minutes. SQUATTING. On already aching quads, this was not a fun time. I’ll put my hand up to this one, on this occasion, Liv the avid hiker, had a sense of humour failure.

SQUATTING.

And that, my friend, is why one does not have a gym membership.

What with all the hikes – today alone must equate to at least 600 lunges, goodness knows how many calf raises and I can only liken the aerobic workout to about 9 back-to-back Zumba classes.

Not only is hiking free, you can get some stunning photographs (beats getting a ‘flexing’ selfie in the gym) you’ll get a nice glow to your skin (once you scrub off the dirt), and you will probably see some cool wildlife (I saw a bear today). You can also make a day of it – stop off at pretty places for lunch, snacks etc.

If you’re in a hot place, remember to be prepared with plenty of drinking water, sunscreen and bug spray! If you’re over-heating, it’s a good idea to dip your hat / bandana in some cold water, then putting it back on your head will help to cool your body temperature down. Or take a moment to dip your wrists in some cold water – this will also quickly bring your core temperature down.

My favourite hiking snacks to take are: Granola bars (lots of them), bagel with peanut butter and jam, an apple, some sliced watermelon (even better than the apple because of the extra water content), dried fruit and nuts, and last but not least – electrolyte jelly beans for when you’re flagging (or something similar). If you can jog the last downhill section, that’s always a good idea as it helps to prevent the lactic acid build up, so you won’t be so sore the next day. Even better – if you have the chance, jump in an ice-cold lake!

Happy hiking kids.

 

Going to the mountains is going home

“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir.

Be curious. Be bold.

I am a big believer that if you want to travel the world, you can. We are born to do so much more than just a 9-5, pay bills and then die. (Even though that’s really the only certain thing in life: death). We should live for the week, not just the weekend. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work. We need to work. Work is good. Work helps us be determined, focused, set goals (it also = money). And boy, oh boy, I am very aware that money plays a big part in how much of the world we can see. A huge part, in fact. But don’t use that as an excuse. If you want something enough, you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes.

Please trust me when I say that saving money for travel can be easier than you think – if you’re smart and strict about it. The main thing, whilst saving, is being able to distinguish between want and need. Living a simpler life is key. Ah, I’m desperate to preach about my money-saving tips BUT, sorry folks, that is quite a big chapter in the travel book that I am writing (for first time, solo travellers) and I don’t want to give too much away…

So for now, back to John Muir – I also disagree with him. He describes the world as ‘big’, but to me, since travelling, it now seems so much smaller. In my daydreams the world was ginormous, never ending… but now things just seem… accessible. For instance, a couple of years ago, never in a million years would I consider moving to another country. Italy – language barrier. China – bigger language barrier. New Zealand – too far away. Canada – too cold. California – too hot. (I lie in the last one. I blooming love the heat). For me, it was England. Just England. Had to be England. For I am English and England is what I know. Even Scotland… well, it’s not England, is it?

Fast-forward a year and I would happily look for and apply for jobs in New Zealand, Australia… especially Mammoth Lakes, California. If you have read my previous posts, this is where I am spending the summer (3 months) and my goodness, I feel at home here.

The scenery is phenomenal and the people are so kind, genuine and welcoming. Not to mention, the running community is what my little running geek dreams are made of. In addition, the people find my British accent ‘intriguing’ which makes me feel like Colin from ‘Love Actually.’ Don’t take that the wrong way – I’m certainly not out here to ‘date,’ but to embrace every moment of the lifestyle that feels perfect to me.

Today I ventured out with Joe and Ryan and we did a 12 mile hike in Yosemite. Casually we had our lunch on the top of North Dome, graciously looking onto Half Dome. Yesterday was a track session on the Asics track – being amongst and certainly being inspired by the incredible athletes (Olympians). THEY SPEEDY. And the other night: bathing in the natural hot springs with new friends, as we watched the sunset behind the mountain range, now a silhouette.

Even if you can’t travel right now in your life, why not explore what your hometown has to offer. Be adventurous, be open to trying new things and do your very best to make everyday an absolute corker.

(Now for those who don’t know me too well, I’m a poetry geek. That sunset was too good I couldn’t resist scribbling something down…)

A sunset in Mammoth Lakes

 

Ribbons of indigo wisps

are the remains of the worn out rain;

 

Again the tangerine peels

behind heart-monitor silhouettes,

 

Minarets mimic His crown

not quite jeweled, or gold, but black –

 

Almost

 

Coasting in yesterday’s sins

below disjointed fingers of rock;

 

Locking up the love songs &

salty eyes; in the name of John Muir,

 

You’re realising

Something –

 

Some things are

Bigger than                you and i.

Maybe Canada next year?

I have a tendency to be as awkward as a cow on roller skates. I’m too quiet. I laugh at things that aren’t funny. I have a resting bitch face. I always look lost. I say, ‘pardon?’ too many times and if I were given a pound for every time I waved at somebody when they were waving at the person behind me – well, I’d be a millionaire.

The other day in fact, I joined a new running club. A woman just behind me said, “wow, sweetie! You did so well!” I quickly turned round, smiling like a Cheshire cat, and said, “Aww thank you! My quads was hurting a bit, but I really enjoyed it.”

Guess what? She was not talking to me. She was talking to her dog.

Sometimes you can run away from feeling so awkward by thinking, ‘ah well. I’ll never see them again.’ But that option doesn’t look so likely for me right now, as I am living here, in Mammoth Lakes, for 3 months. It’s quite a small town and you bump into the same people quite a lot.

NOTE: Mammoth Lakes is in California, not Canada. I’ve had quite a few messages lately asking me how Canada is. Or telling me that it looks like I’m having an incredible time in Canada.. AM I!?!?!

I am so grateful to be living in Mammoth (California) for the summer. It’s my favourite place in the world. I quite often have to pinch myself. Last week for my birthday, I climbed my favourite mountain to 11,000 ft and enjoyed some squashed birthday cake at the top.

This week I kept up with my altitude training, helped out with the Summer Mini Adventure Camp and did some babysitting. I spent 5 hours yesterday with a 6 year old boy who repeatedly told me that I had small boobies.

I’m tired from the altitude and feeling a little deflated at my slower running times up here. But I’m determined to keep working hard and hopefully see the benefits when I’m back in the UK. At sea level. With all that beautiful oxygen.

So, folks. I’ve been here one month now. Two more to go! Maybe Canada will be next on my list?

God bless America

 

I am pleased to announce that I am writing a book. Currently 44,000 words in and going strong.

I usually turn my nose up at ‘writers’ who are sat in cafes, typing away. ‘How pretentious’ I would think. Why do you have to be in public to do that? Go home and drink copious amounts of unlimited tea and coffee. Nobody needs to see you.

Sorry guys. I take that back. I now regularly head out to cafes to whack another few pages out. If I were to be in the house all day it would drive me crazy! And you know what, the odd over-priced iced coffee is nice. Ah, I indulge in my mountain village paradise. I love looking up from my screen every now and again and watching the world go by.

A man on the adjacent table started to speak to me. He assumed that I was a local and asked me if I knew where a particular European restaurant was. “Erm. Do you know what it’s called?” I asked.

He did not.

“I think it does French food” he said.

That did not narrow it down. He then continues to chat to me, asking what I’m doing. I tell him I’m writing a book (still feels weird to say that). We chat for quite a while and then, HEAD DOWN, I’m in the zone.

“So have you been on many hikes?”

I politely respond telling him that I love hiking, running and being outdoors.

Head down.

“Which hike is your favourite?”

(Breathe in). “I like Arrow Head. Also Mammoth Mountain – that’s a classic.”

(starts to type again).

“What about Yosemite?”

I give him a really, really long answer, hoping that it will exhaust him.

(starts to viciously type again).

Does he give in? Nope. He basically demands a chapter breakdown of my book. I AIN’T NEVER GONNA FINISH THE BOOK IF Y’ALL KEEP ON DISTURBING ME.

Aside from writing, it’s been quite a week. My friend’s car was going spare, so I’m a very lucky girl and that big boy is mine for my time here. It’s Dodge Durango 4WD. It’s huge and red and I look like a right wolly being so high up and close to the wheel. I’ve had a few heart palpitations learning to drive on the ‘right’ (wrong!) side of the road, but it’s great to have the freedom.

Back on foot… I was on a hike the other day and finally saw a wild bear! I have been waiting long and hard for this moment and it’s great to know that they are real and not a myth. I sent my Mum a photo and she said: ‘Oh my! Were you scared!?”

Genuinely, not even a drop of fear was in my body. I was just happy to see him and thought he was cute. Not the smartest attitude to have…

I’ll tell you what is smart though: hot lemon and honey. It seems to have done the trick. My cold is tackling the final hurdle – I no longer feel run down. However my sense of smell is still left to the imagination and I have a cough that resembles a saggy-faced-30-a-day-smoker.

In addition, the hiking and running have turned my big toe a beautiful blackish blue. It looks gross but I also have a strange sense of pride about it.

Pride increases when, last Thursday, I went for a run with Deena Kastor. Deena is America’s best woman marathoner. She is a successful Olympian and holds the American women’s record for the marathon in an inspirational time of 2:19:36.

If you’re bored / interested in what I am getting up to in the ‘running world’ and what I am discovering about ‘altitude training,’ you can read more about that on my running blog: https://livforrunning.wordpress.com

Speaking of running, 4th July celebrations started with a race (ever so pleased to be second lady!) The rest of the day was fun-filled with parades, candy, pumpkin pie and fireworks. And then some more pumpkin pie. God bless America.

Lots of Americans are intrigued about my opinion on Brexit. It’s a sore spot, I tell them. A very, very sore spot.

Closer to the clouds

The mountains were calling and I have now arrived in Mammoth Lakes, California (8,000ft above sea level).

If you have ever experienced high altitude before, you’ll know that all physical activity is more demanding when you’re closer to the clouds. Even walking up the stairs, I’m wheezing, feeling like an asthmatic 90-year-old.

In terms of running: I have been advised to cut back my mileage by at least 25% for the first week and should expect to be at least 15% slower. One of my goals is to join the Mammoth Track Club. The Mission of the Mammoth Track Club is to support athletic and academic achievement, develop professional athleticism and promote lifelong health and fitness through running in a high altitude environment.

http://www.mammothtrackclub.com

Sounds fun.

Even though I have been taking my running steady these last few days, the dramatic elevations have shocked my body – especially my little size 3 feet. A steep, fairly long downhill run has caused trauma to my big toe, resulting in painful swelling and severe bruising. Pass me the ice pack!

I’ve done a couple of mini hikes, but nothing too severe as of yet. But I have 3 months and those mountains aren’t going anywhere. It is a tad frustrating though – I have also come down with stinker of a cold.

Currently sniffing Olbas oil and bathing my foot with Epsom salts.

When messaging Anne, my soul-mate who I met in Bangkok, she said: “You manage to survive Thailand, yet Cali tries to destroy you!?”

I actually think that because the last 5 months have been so full on (sometimes dangerous, often dirty) my body has become exhausted trying to protect itself.

Now that I’m in my true paradise and doing what I love, my body has relaxed and, OH HEY VIRUS. But if I’m going to be anywhere, California is the place. Priding itself on health, vitamins and minerals galore (minus the outrageous cost of healthcare), I think Mammoth has got my back.

The landscape is spectacular. The people are ever so friendly. The buses are free. What’s not to love?

In the winter months, Mammoth is a popular ski resort. So even now, in the hot summer, it’s got that chilled, ‘Apres Ski’ kind of feel. I had a peek on Tinder out of sheer curiosity (purely for research purposes, of course). It amused me that all the men pretty much look the same. Oh, and apparently life is ‘totally rad’ and ‘gnarly, man.’

 

Oops I did it again

In 2012 I caught an aggressive bug as I inter-railed around Italy and France. I should have known it would happen. I slept in dirty hostels in Rome and ate cheap bread and cheese for days. I wore crinkled, back-pack-squashed clothes and got a lobster stomach from the French sun. I’m not sure whether I caught the bug from the questionable hostels, the dirt cheap food, maybe even the crammed, budget airline flight home? But catching the travel bug hit me hard. “Time to start saving.” I thought.

Fast-forward 4 years and I have just come back from a trip of a life-time exploring New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Determined not to get the ‘travel blues’ when I arrived home, I pumped myself up and put my energy into looking forward to getting a job in London again, and catching up with my beautiful family and friends.

But during my job-hunt and catch ups galore, an incredible opportunity arose… I won’t go into too much detail right now, but long story short, I got the chance to go to California for 3 months.

Mammoth Lakes.

I visited there last summer. It is, hands down, my favourite place in the world. The appeal is a combination of breath-taking scenery, challenging running routes and the community’s support of athletic endeavors. It’s also a place where snow-capped mountains, peaceful forests and bald eagles are often the runner’s only companion. I remember getting the plane home and thinking, ‘I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but I know that I’ll be back.’ I certainly didn’t expect it could be so soon!

I pride myself on being sensible with money. Somehow, I managed to come under budget for my last trip. So the money for my flights to Mammoth was sweetly staring me in the face.

‘But you’ve just had an epic trip’ I told myself. ‘You don’t deserve this.’

So the London job-hunt and catch ups continued. Now, I’m not usually one to crack under peer-pressure, but EVERYONE who I spoke to about the Mammoth opportunity said, ‘GO!!!!!’

So I did.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt