Saturday, January 31, 2009

I DID IT!!! & All The Way Down....

L-R Andrew, Lauri, Bryson, Kennedy, Uto

Descending off Kilimanjaro, I wasn't so sure it wasn't going to be "Kill-My-Aunt-Lauri." It was the longest walk ever. About half way down I started feeling the effects of the change in altitude, and major jet lag. I became so dizzy, light headed, nauseated and very shaky. Bryson keep telling me, he thought I should let him get me an emergency cart. Anyone who knows me, knows that was out of the question. My reply to him was, " I will go down off this mountain, the same way I went up, that is on my own two feet, and I don't care if it takes me another eight hours. He just grinned and we kept walking Pole-Pole. Andrew one of my porters, was so cute with me, he stayed with me the whole time and just kept telling me I was doing great. When we finally reached the gate at Marangu Route I was totally exhausted. I signed out as a climber off the mountain. YES, I did it!!! However, I don't want to do it again anytime soon. There have been a few times in my life that I have been exhausted, but never to the point of collapsing. Coming off of Kili, I truly was to the point of collapsing.
For the next three days my legs hurt so bad, I had a hard time walking. I suppose no success in life comes without pain.



It was off for a the second day of hiking. I had already been warned today would be a long hard hike, so I tried to give myself a pep talk as I left the Mandara Campsite. Today's, hike would encompass hiking out of the rain forest, through the Moorland and finally reaching the Alpine Desert, estimated hike time seven- hours. I really enjoyed the Rain Forest and the Moorland, but when we reached the Alpine Desert about six hours in to the hike I lost steam. Bryson took my day pack, of which he said was very heavy and it was no wonder I was getting tired. I was convinced had he of not taken my pack I would not of made it.

I was so extremely exhausted, when I looked back at how far I had come on the mountain. It was like the clouds were following me and pushing me from behind and at times it was a little eerie. There in the distance I could see the Horombo Huts elevation 13, 487.
Day four would be the longest and most difficlut and there really was a time when I thought of giving up, but I just keep putting on foot in front of the other. I laid my flag on a rock, read it and reread it. Trying to keep the messages and the meaning of the flag in my mind. Then as I was listening to my MP3 player, Jewel's, song "A Stronger Woman" came on. I knew I couldn't give up after hearing the lyrics of "I will be a stronger woman, a stronger woman--the kind I'd want my daughter to be!" With my flag in my hand and the song lyrics in my mind, I had a bit of renewed energy as I went the last hour of my twelve hour hike.

there it was the highest free standing peak in the world and I was seeing it first hand. Also coming into camp there were my Austrian friends, Nina and Martin running towards me cheering as loud as the could. Tears were rolling down my face, as I had reached my goal. I had so many thoughts swirling in my mind, one being Mt. Kilimanjaro is a long ways from Goshen, Utah.

I had DONE IT! As I watched the sun set from 15,463 feet on Mt. Kilimanjaro it was a breath taking view as you could see the lights of Tanzania and Kenya as if they were a miniature villages at Disneyland. Sitting on the deck of the mess hall, I had the chance to visit with so many people from so many different walks of life. Funny not a sole from Utah, but several from the US.
I did sleep a little better, but jet lag was catching up with me. Bryson had explained to me I would need to be up and ready to descend the mountain at 6:00 am. As the sun came up over the "Roof of Africa" I was up and enjoyed my last view of the Uhuru Peak. Not only was the peak a beautiful site, but the sunrise was unbelievable. Standing in awe of the sunrise with the cloud cover below me was absolutely incredible. It was truly was a sight I'll never see again.
Before I started the descend I had one last request to fill, that was to bring back a pruddy rock for TJ. Though I had looked for one going up the trail I couldn't seem to find the perfect rock, as they all looked the same. Finally, I found a handful of rocks all a little different, all from 15, 463 feet on Kili. I hope they all make TJ smile. Now I have paid him back for all the rocks he brought me from every hunting trip for the last fifteen years.

Soon it was down the mountain with a new renewed energy in our steps. Well, so okay the porters had new found energy. They are amazing as they literally run up and down the mountain carry forty pounds on their heads, many wearing nothing more than flip-flops and shorts. Not only do they have to carry it all up the mountain, but what ever is taken up, must be carried back down. That includes all trash used in making the trip. There are even porters who's job it is to carry cases of beer and Coke to each campsite. Watching them I was thankful for my job at Mountain View Hospital and the wages I make. Porters make about $4000.00 per year and their job is anything, but easy. I remember watching them miles ahead of me on the trail. I thought how different my life would have been had I been born in Africa.

The porters, the cooks and the guides all have to go to school in order to work in their respective jobs. Bryson, told me school in not easy and it is very expensive. My thinking was what can someone teach you about carry forty pounds on your head, maybe find an easier job. Most clients tip them about twenty dollars for the three-four day hike. Call me a sucker again, I tipped them each fifty dollars. I thought about what I do for fifty dollars in comparison to what they do, it was money well spent.

Before leaving the Kibo Hut, Nina and Martin gave me one last hug and wished me well. I in returned told them to give the summit HELL! They laughed and said they had never heard that before... They waved and cheered as I began my descent off Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Going down I was over come with a sense of pride and accomplishment and so wished someone could have been there in person to see me reach my goal. I was grinning from ear to ear not only on the outside, but on the inside as well!

I DID IT!!!!
How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In one such place standing alone on Mt. Kilimanjaro, it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track. ~John Muir

She did it!!!! She got to 15,463 feet and said it was the hardest thing she's ever done. We were able to talk to her on the phone for just a few minutes and it was soooo good to hear her voice--even though she sounded absolutely exhausted. She told me shared a hut with a cute, younger couple from Austria. When she got to the hut on the fourth night (after she'd made it to her goal height on Kili), the couple CHEERED as loud as they could. As she told me about it, she started to cry--but, I know they were tears of pride and accomplishment. She also told me that on the way down, she got light-headed, dizzy, nauseated and very quivery. The porters and her guide, Bryson, asked her if she wanted them to call emergency personnel and get her a cart. She told them "There's no way in hell I'm going to let you call emergency people for me!" I can just hear her voice saying that! Anyway, she made it up in three days and down--35 miles-- in one day. Way to go Mom--we all knew you could do it; and, while we may not have been there by your side, we were all there in spirit!

From Kristina: I am so glad you made it there safe and sound!! Sounds like you are already having a blast! Stay away from the monkeys, they're mean! You are amazing!! And, no worries, this half-assed Mormon is back here praying for ya! Love Ya! Kristina.

From Karen Boothe: Leslie Dicou wants to know the names of the porters.

From Mom: Hey everyone! I DID IT!!! I am tired, but good. What an awesome experience, but I don't want to do it again anytime soon. Love to all

From Andi: You are so awesome. I'm so proud of you. What a cool bucket list.

From Sana: That tired gives more to your spirit. Go get every adventure.

From Mom: Well, I am back off the longest, most difficult walk I have every done. All I can say is be careful what you put on your "Bucket List!" Going up there was a time that I thought of giving up. Then the song "Stronger Woman" by Jewel played on my MP3 player. I had to finish. All I can say is it is a long way from an ICU bed at UVRMC and U of U! I hope I've made everyone proud and let everyone know you can go far beyond what you think you can!!! Love Lauri, Mom & Grandma XOXO

From Toni: Congrats Aunt Lar way to go we are proud as hell of you!

From Kristina: I knew you could do it! What an amazing woman you are! I am really proud of you and jealous cause its something I could probably never do! Way to go! Love Kris

From Sana: Proud you should be at what you set out to do and look what you have become. My heart is waving with thumbs up. WAY TO GO!

From Tiffany: Way to go! I knew you could do it! Please send any pictures when you can. Great job, Mom! Love you!

From Steve: Hey Lauri. I knew you would make it. I am proud of you. Be careful. See you soon. Luv, Steve

From Andi: I'm glad that part of your bucket list is done (climbing Kili). Now, onto better things. I think you could rope an elephant, especially for Brykn. Please take care of yourself, my friend. I am so proud of you and I miss you tons.

From Mom/Jacquie: We knew you could do it. You have the stubborn Hopes blood. Love you, Mom & Jacquie

From Karen Boothe: (via card sent with Leslie) I never doubted that you would reach your goal on Kili. I only wish I could have been there too! We'll get together soon for an adventure together. Thanks for letting me be part of your great experience! Love Karen

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Night~~~Mandara Huts

On the way to the first nights lodging there were so many beautiful things. From the canopy of tropical trees covered with moss, to the African Impatiens, the Bloody Lilies, and waterfalls everywhere. It was an amazing hike. Once at the Mandara Huts I once again had to check in, but not before each member of my team was there to do a round of high fives. After checking in I was given the key to hut number seven, and was soon joined by my two new Austrian friends husband and wife, Nina and Martin. Nina was the person I had asked to take a photo at the base of the Mt. Both Nina and Martin spoke very good English, and were very comfortable to be around. Being in the company of those from other nations, I learned most all speak several languages and speak them very well. Then, there was me, I was doing good to say "Jambo" hello in Swahili.

After settling into hut number seven, I simply wanted to take in some of the happenings about the Mandara Campsite. The guides and porters quarters are on the opposite side of the guest huts. It was amazing to see all the porters, cooks and guides bustling about just to ensure the clients were taken care and happy with everything. Soon one of my porters came with a basin of hot water and soap so I could wash up and get ready for afternoon TEA. I took one sip of the tea and that was enough for me. I'm no sure what type of tea it was, but it was definitely not Lipton.

After tea, Andrew, one of my porters, and I walked a short distance up to the Maundi Crater. From which you could see Tanzania on one side and Kenya on the other. What an amazing sight to see two different countries from the top of one mountain. Plus in the trees there were several "Bush Babies," a small rarely seen bush monkey. I think Andrew was more impressed with the Bush Babies than I was. Once back at the Mandara Campsite dinner was ready, but I wasn't, as my stomach was upset from the altitude. Some of the dishes at dinner I knew what they were, others I had no idea. I found the key was to take a rather small bite and try to figure it out. This is how I got my first taste of GOAT, yes goat and Cucumber soup. GROSS!!!!!! I really do not think anyone should make soup out of a cucumber. After getting both in my mouth the trick was getting it out..... The whole time I was thinking of a Big Mac & Fries, and honestly couldn't wait to get back to my hut and find a Power Bar.

Shortly, after dinner it was off to hut number seven for a restful nights sleep, yeah right! I knew the altitude makes ones urinary tract system work over time, but this was ridiculous. Every two hours I was runny to the long drop. The bad things was the long drop was a good hundred yards away and the monkeys and other wildlife were making a horrible racket. I finally learned to step outside the hut, drop my drawers and hurry back inside. The night seems long in a way, but very short in another. At 6am there was a knock on the door, it was Tea time.


From Mom: Well, I made it through the first night okay. I was glad to get to the first night’s lodging or hut. I still can’t believe I am here. Saw monkeys on the way. It’s very green and thick. Oh & I have to be positive about my job. Average years pay here is $450.00 per YEAR! So, go easy on the luxuries of the 44 oz Diet Cokes. Love Ya, Mom, Lauri, and Grandma

From Tiffany: Awesome! I am so proud of you! You have had tons of replies to your messages. They are on your blog and mine. I told Brykn you saw monkeys and he wants to know if you have got his elephant. He says we can put it in the barn. Hang in there today! You are doing great. And, the picture was awesome. We love you!

From Sana: I love knowing you are loving your walk. Those huts are a welcome site. Africa is in every breath. May He continue to watch over your every step.

I've Arrived at the Base of Kilimanjaro

At the Base~~Marangu Route
Thursday January 29th. Bryson, my guide, two porters Andrew, and Kennedy, and my cook Uto, picked me up at the hotel at 9am, for the first day of paper work and hiking the mountain. The ride to the base of Marangu Route was such an eye opener. After all my first sights of Africa were in the dark. Okay, so I had my eyes closed most of the time due to the fact Bryson's driving scared me to death. Finally, I had ridden with someone who's driving scared me more than TJ's does.
This morning I was getting a look at Africa first hand, there is so much poverty compared to American standards. The houses are small shacks, shacks that would make the Goshen Trailer Court, look like the Ritz. There are cows, goats, and donkeys wondering in and out of the strip shops, children running around with no shoes in filth and manure, and women cooking corn on little barbeque's in the middle of it all.

There are fifty-eight million people living in Tanzania, over seventy-five percent of who walk everywhere they go. Needless to say these people are thin and are in great cardio-vascular shape, but I had to wonder about other deficiencies. When Bryson ask about my hometown, I told him the population of Goshen is about eight hundred TOPS. He just laughed and said that in not a town, it's a village.

After a thirty minute drive we were at the base of the Kilimanjaro, Marangu Route. I was surprised at the check in process, the park officials run a tight ship or mountain if you will. I had to fill out several lines of personal information. Bryson had prior obtained the permit to hike and cleared it all through the guard with a large gun. These guards have no sense of humor and take their job very serious. When I asked if he could turn around, so I could get a better photo he yelled at me, I took that as a definite NO!

Not only do the guides and hikers have to check in, the porters and cooks do also. They were all lined up checking in and weighing all the bags. Many of these men, mostly in their twenties and thirty's climb the mountain up to 150-200 times a year. What a hard way to make a living of approximately $200.00-$250.00 a month depending on tips.

Soon we were off up the Mountain, it was hard for me to believe me Lauri Wall, from a small village in Utah, and someone who has never really hiked was trudging up Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was exciting just being on the Mt. after all it is the highest free standing mountain in the world. Not far up the trail a young boy from a near by village came out of the trees holding a stick with a lizard on it. He said something in Swahili, when I ask Bryson what he said? He replied he wants you to take a picture of his lizard for money. Call me a sucker, Yes I did and gave him a dollar. This little boy ran off in to the jungle with a smile on his face, Bryson just shook his head at me but, smiled too. Bryson explained to me everyone no matter the age, has a job to simply survive.

The first days hike was easy about four hours of a steep incline, with the trail being worn and easy to walk on. On the first day we hiked up through the Rain Forest, so it was very beautiful and the temperature was cool. The monkeys jumped from tree to tree high above our heads, as if they were playing games with me. Coming into the Mandara Hut camp site was a welcome site, after all I had, had very little sleep in over a week.

Well, she made it to her first stop on Kilimanjaro; and, sent us a picture. She looks like she's doing good!
From Mom: Hey, I made it to my first stop!!! This is my first stop for the night. Love ya all.
From Karen Boothe: Jambo! One question you didn't ask-what side of the road does Africa drive on? Ha Ha! Remember, the word of the day is Pole, Pole.
From Sana: Wow you are in AFRICA :) Take it all in with pictures in your heart.
From Jacquie: Glad you made it. Hope you have a good time. Love ya. Jacquie

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Journey Has Begun!~~~Off I Go

Off I Go!!

Tuesday, January 27th 2009, is finally here! The ride to the airport was a little tense, as it was snowing in Utah County, which made me nervous my flight might be delayed. To add to the stress Buck and TJ were a basket of nerves. They both kept asking if I was sure I really wanted to do this? I wondered who needed who the most. At the airport my little buddy was tugging on my leg asking if he could, " Pease go too." After all Brykn so wanted to help me rope an elephant, a task he was convinced would be easy, just like roping a cow. Tiff was excited and happy for me to experience this dream, though I think she was a bit nervous too. Shosho and Sana, the founders of AILC also met me there. They gave me words of encouragement, well wishes, and a set of bells they, themselves had used when they climbed Kili. Also packed safely in my back pack was, two love notes my kids had written to when they were just little, a two dollar bill Tiff always had in her cowboy at when she competed in queen contests, a four leaf clover TJ carried in his shooting bag at the trapshoots, my number from the Race for a Cure, a picture of Brykn and a Valentine he colored for me, a key chain Dad had made me before he passed away, one earring that belonged to Grandma Clara Jerman, and my Guardian angel pin Grandma Ruth Hopes gave me twenty years ago. Around my neck was the locket from Mom.
One more round of hugs and kisses and I was off to gate C5 Delta/NWA airlines for my departing flight at 8:30 am.
All day Tuesday I wasn't really sure if it was day or night, as I went through several times zones. Flying over England, the entire ground was lit up. It was an amazing sight to see, as I realized that so many of my ancestors had come from Cornwall, England.
Flying over Tanzania there were very few lights on the ground, it was almost like there wasn't really life down there. Not a warm fuzzy feeling that is for sure.
I landed in Moshi, Tanzania on Wednesday January 28th 2009 at 21:30, what a LONG ride. TJ would have loved the airport as we had to walk down the stairs and across the tarmac, just like in the movies, but without "the Duke" waiting to help me with my bag.
I couldn't see Bryson (my guide) for a long time and I was a little panicky and starting to get teary thinking I was stuck in Africa not knowing anyone or the language. However, shortly after getting my bags and my Visa for $100.00 I saw him with a sign reading "JAMBO, LAURA ANN WALL!" I was so extremely happy to see him. As I loaded all my bags into his car, I went to the passengers door to get. Bryson, promptly ask if I was going to drive? Little did I know everything is on the wrong side of the car and they drive on the wrong side of the road. The forty minute ride to Moshi Town Bristol Cottage Hotel, was bit scary as we almost hit a bicyclist, not to mention there were so many people walking along the road. Then we were stopped by the police, there were so many things running through my mind. One of which was "What the hell was I thinking coming by myself," and "I could end up missing and my family wouldn't have a clue where to start looking." We soon pulled into the gated hotel, Bryson took care of all the check in process, thank goodness. Soon I found myself in my room, doors securely locked, looking around thinking it looked a bit like the Milford Motel! I didn't want to sleep in the sheets so I used my sleeping bag. I slept fair, it was so noisy and I was a little worried about a mosquito that was buzzing about all night. After all Malaria is so prevalent in Tanzania. The night seemed short, but I was anxious to get started up the Mountain.

My mom left for Africa yesterday; and, after nearly 20 hours of flight, she FINALLY made it to Tanzania. I was lucky enough to talk to her when she got to the hotel which she described as "just like the Milford Motel." For those of you who have stayed at the Milford Motel, you will know why she then told me that she thought she would sleep in her sleeping bag. :)

Because of the expensive rates to text and talk on the phone, Mom asked me to send her text messages to her friends and our family. Because the text messages are coming from me, however, I am also getting all the replies. So, I'm going to post all the text messages sent both from Mom and to Mom on this blog. Then, when she is able to get to a computer, she can read all the wonderful messages people have sent her way. Keep the messages coming! I know she will LOVE reading them when she can!

From Mom: Hi everyone. I am in Amsterdam, it is 6:30 am. Holy cow what a long ride. I can't see what it looks like its still dark & foggy. I'll be leaving for Africa in 5 hours. I'll text again once I am on the ground in Africa. Love Ya.

From Tiffany: I am so glad you made it okay. So far so good! Please let me know when you get to Tanzania. We love you--big hugs!

From Grandma Hopes: Be careful it sounds like you are having fun. Keep in touch. We all love you.

From Sana: Oh the adventure that awaits. Our sweet prayers and HIS CONSTANT CARE surround you.

From Kelli: Wow I can't believe she is on her way. Tell her that I'm thinking of her when you talk to her next.

From Nadine: Oh, it is soooo good to hear from you. I have been wondering where you are. Stay safe and take in the wonder of life. Ya too! Nadine

From Karen Boothe: Yippe! Hope you were able to get some sleep.

From Mom: Hey I'm here. Holy cow what a ride, and the car ride was a little scary! Everything is on the wrong side and we about hit somebody on a bike. It is hot and humid.

From Karen Spotten: Keep going gal. Miss you already.

From Sana: Holy cow are you having fun??? The adventure begins and we are beside you. Love your heart.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Party, Party, Party & Fond Farewell

Fond Farewell
The day before I left, Tiffany gave me a journal, so I could write down my thoughts and feelings of this life changing journey. The first page was a note from her, a note that brought tears to eyes and a sense of great pride to my heart.

Mom~~I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of you--what an inspiration you are! Since I was little you have always encouraged me to "follow my dreams" and to " dream big." I have tried my best to do just that. But, watching you take your own advise and make one of your own dreams a reality has been absolutely awe inspiring!

I am so excited for you and all the experiences that await you in Africa. And, I am positive this journey will be life changing. I'm sure this will be lessons learned, experience gained and memories made. For that reason I am giving you this journal-in purple of course. I want you to set a goal to tell your African story, one day at a time.

I want to read about it all! From the poor villages, to the medical care, to the trek to the top of Africa. I am sure that through your words we can all experience your trip.

So, here's to the sweat, the tears, the joy, and the experience of a lifetime. Write it down, preserve it and most of all love every minute of it.

Remember it's only a mountain and it can be climbed one step at a time. Put one foot in front of the other and up you'll go!

Good Luck, I love you and I am proud to say you are my Mom.
Love Tiffany

Party, Party, Party

Yesterday, TJ had planned for he and I to go snowmobiling before I left. However, the weather didn't cooperate with the plan as it RAINED all day. So TJ, and I, went rabbit hunting, and riding, something we always use to do. I was excited about just spending time to talk, get a treat, and curse him about his driving.
What I didn't know about the day is Tiff, Buck and TJ had planned a Surprise Going Away Party, in my honor. Luckily, I had cleaned the house the day before. After two hours of riding in on the Elberta Flats, hanging on for dear life,( TJ's driving makes me a little nervous) and talking about life we came home. Home ,where my entire family was sitting in the family room yelling surprise!! I was shocked and couldn't believe all those who came to wish me well. Even though this has been my dream, everyone has also embrace the idea. Tiff had a big dinner all fixed, it was great fun. Thanks Tiff, for planning it and fixing the food, Thanks Buck for being the gopher, and Thanks TJ for the wild ride, just to get me out of the house, and Thanks to all who came just for me! I love you all.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I have thought so much about the words and thoughts that might describe how I feel about going to Africa. I have worked hard and hopefully I will look back and smile as I accomplish all of these.
Nurture~~Those I care about and those I will meet.
Imagine~~Anything is possible, if you try.
Discover~~Where a new path may lead.
Embrace~~ The unexpected and grow from it.
Enjoy~~The company I'll keep for the next four weeks
Journey~~Into a world unknown, even if it is alone.
Challenge~~My limitations, you go girl!
Indulge~~In a quiet moment, to simply reflect about what I can give.
Anticipate~~Life's Possible Outcomes, maybe humanitarian work is my new calling as a nurse
Practice~~Makes Perfect, hopefully all my hard work will pay off on the Mountain
Admire~~The good qualities within all human beings
Celebrate~~The life I have and those I love.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Last But Not Least

I have given thanks to my family, my friends and my co-workers, now here a huge THANK-YOU to my husband. When I told him I was going to Africa, he just smiled. Buck, knew there was no changing my mind, as I have always been a strong willed person. Though Buck, would say it is more like "bull-headedness." So many people have ask me what he thought of the whole idea, my reply, he doesn't say much, as he knows I will do what I want. Though he has encouraged me to go, he is now getting a little nervous about the whole trip and me going by myself. I have to say Thanks for supporting and allowing me to fulfill a dream. Buck has gone hiking and walking with me and has picked up some of the slack around the house, when I was working so many hours to pay for my trip, of which I say Thanks I couldn't have done it without you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Packed Up

Today, was the final team meeting and team packing. The excitement is mounting for all fifteen of us. The team encompasses a variety of professions and individuals. There is a veterinarian, a dentist, a dental assistant/housewife, an ER nurse, Hematec/Sales Rep, a CNA, a Physical Therapist, CEO of a pizza corporation, a midwife, a clinic nurse, an Insurance agent/student, a student (who is 12 years old), the founder & co-founder of AILC, and a plumbing contractor. WOW! What a variety people who also want to fulfill a dream. At the meeting we learned after arriving in Nairobi, we will travel in a van to Atha River, an extremely poor village where the natives live in cardboard boxes. After two days there is is on to St. Catherine's School, where we will spend several days, before going to other villages. It will be an eye opener for all of us Americans, who have life so well.
Also at today's meeting and packing we all packed our bags, with school supplies, medical supplies, fabric, yarn, reading glasses and sewing supplies. There is a total of 1500 pounds of humanitarian supplies that will board the plane, and then distributed where it is needed the most. Along with the supplies there is several thousand dollars that will be put to use for woman and children to live a more productive, self-reliant, happier, healthy life. It was a great feeling for me to donate over $500.00 dollars of supplies and $500.00 in financial assistance, thanks to countless friends and family. I can't wait to see the look on the faces of the woman and children in Africa. One thing is for sure, I will bet that they give me, far more than I will give them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Valued Friends, Trusted Co-Workers

My quest to go to Africa, has not only affected my family, but my co-workers too. Everyone in the ER and many from the entire hospital have helped or encouraged me in the journey. Each day I go to work someone wants to know how many days left, or what training I have been doing. Many co-workers have stepped up and picked up my shifts for the four weeks I'll be gone, or have donated money to help those women and children in need in Africa. It has truly been an overwhelming feeling to see the support from my many friends at Mountain View Hospital. First, I owe a huge THANKS to Karen Spotten, Karen is one of my best friends. It was Karen, who sat with me at UVRMC when I knocked on deaths door with the Pulmonary Embolisms and again four years later when my liver decided to go south. Karen, and I are two peas in a pod and I lean on her, as she does me, for many things both professionally and as friends. Second, Karen Boothe, it is because of her I am going. Without her encouragement and guidance I wouldn't be fulfilling this dream. She has answered a million and one questions on Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro and foreign travel. Karen has allowed me tag along on a few of her athletic outings in an effort to get me in better physical condition. Third, Andi and Carol, I love you guys, you're both like sisters to me, and yes I will be careful and text you often. Andi, I know you and your family; (my bra-less buddies) Suzee, Teresa, Abbi, Linda, would do anything to help me. I love that attribute about your entire family. Carol, I will never forget the phrase you past on to me only two weeks ago, "You can climb the highest mountain, if the first step you take is believing in yourself!" I believe I can do, I know I can do it. Carol you are a great example of determination, "Miss 50 Marathons!"
Fourth, the entire Mountain View ER staff and all five ER Doc's, you guys are the best. I will be taking part of each of you with me. Some have called my crazy, some have called driven, but I call all of you my friends. Thanks for your support, I love you all!

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Legacy, My Little Buddy

I never thought I could love anyone as much as I love my children, then I became a "Gam-maw." The love I feel for Brykn is amazing! He makes me laugh when I am sad, he makes me cry when he asks me to "Come to mine house to play" and I can't. Brykn also makes me see there is a great future in this world with his zest for life and positive attitude, after all he thinks Gam-maw and Brykn can do anything.
When I started this incredible journey, it was for me. However, as time as gone on and I have gone far beyond what I ever thought I could, part of me wants to do a positive role model for my Little Buddy. I truly want Brykn to see if you put your heart and sole into some thing anything is possible. I know right now all of this isn't that big of a deal to Brykn, but maybe someday he will say, "Hey do you know what my Grandma did!"

I love you so much Little Buddy, you have given me a purpose in life after I raised your Mom and TJ. You and I have such a special bond, you are my legacy, my little buddy. I love you Brykn, sooooooo much! Look for a photo of the flag you gave me, as I wave it with pride, love, and a sense of accomplishment.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hate Winter, Love Snowshoeing

As kid I loved the Winter weather, the fresh fallen snow, and sleigh riding, but as I have gotten older, ( heavy on the old,) I truly detest Winter. Especially when I have to get in a cold car, or get all bundled up the an Eskimo, and at my age sleigh riding is dangerous and a lot of physical work. However, this year in an effort to stay in shape and continue to exercise before going to Africa, I ask for snow shoes for Christmas. Now I have never been snowshoeing in my life, but then again in the past few months I have tried a lot of things I have never done before. For someone who hates to be cold, I LOVE snowshoeing! It takes no talent, just pick em up and step, that is until you fall then it is a little tricky getting back up. One thing about it though it doesn't' hurt when you fall if the snow is deep enough. I have been several times around Goshen, but the other day I went with Karen Boothe & Joy Hunter, we hiked up to Loafer. It was absolutely beautiful! The sun was shining, the snow was sparkling, and the view was gorgeous.
WOW, what a work out on the legs, I think my right thigh was screaming loudly, what the hell are you doing. It is a little different than hiking as my boots and snowshoes adds about five pounds per leg. That is better than forty-five pounds on my in my cute green backpack, but still a little rough for someone who has never been to active in the outdoors. Only ten days left and its off to hike Kilimanjaro, I so hope I have done enough training, either by hiking, swimming, walking and my new found outdoor pleasure snowshoeing, to get reach my goal on the highest free standing mountain in the world. Look out Kili here I come!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Family Support

It is down to two weeks and the great family support has been very touching. Here's a toast to my family, my Mom, my brothers, sisters and their families. Each one of you have been a huge help to me in preparing for my trip. Mom, I know you are concerned about my decision to go to Africa, but I also know you are very, very proud of this journey. I have become stronger mentally, physically and emotionally, than I have ever been. I owe some of that to you and the other strong willed ancestor women of our family. I love you so much, I'll be careful and I will wear the LOCKET with pride. I have a picture of you and Dad, in one side and a photo of Brykn in the other. I owe you and Dad everything and Brykn is my everything. Don, even though you are gruff and tough on the outside, you're pretty soft on the inside. Your greatest advise, "Don't get eaten by a tiger" and "the only person you have to run faster than is the last one in line" I don't really plan on getting eaten by a tiger or a lion, but thanks Don for the advise. Jeannie, you have listened to my excitement and read all about my plans with as much as excitement as me. You have hiked with me and offered help with anything I have needed. I will take a part of you with me, especially on the Mt. However, I probably won't see a moose, but I will take photos of what I do see. Jacquie, I know with this life changing journey, you have picked up some of the slack with taking care of Mom when I have been either working or training, thanks! Steve, your pep talks with "You can do it Laur!" mean so much to me, it's nice to know someone believes in me. I've tried to have your enthusiasm for life throughout this entire process, however, I don't know if I'll have your gift to gab to everyone I met.
Doug, Your patience and taking care of Mom, when I've been busy has been a great help for me. Though I know you wonder why I want to climb some Mt, just to say I did it. I, really think however, your amazed at my determination to do so. Oh and I love it when you shake your head in total bewilderment at this crazy plan.
Kelli, Toni, thanks for words of encouragement for the old gal. All I can say is "this one's for the girls." Old girls, young girls, girls in our heritage who passed on tenacity, drive and attitude. An attitude of don't tell me I can't do it because I'll prove you wrong. I can see the same attributes in Reese, she is already a fighter at four pounds.
For everyone else, Thanks I hope I have made you proud to say I'm a member of the family.... I love you all far more than I often say.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sure Do Love Ya!

Just think three weeks from today and I'll be on the plane headed from my second stop, Amsterdam. The closer it gets to my departure, the more nervous and possessive TJ gets. So today I tip my hat to my Buddy, of twenty years. I really think TJ thought I was just kidding and would not go through with my life changing journey. TJ should know me by now, but sometimes he doesn't take me serious. So when I told him I was going to Africa, he replied WHAT! Then it was, "do you know how far away that is, and what if something happens to you?" TJ and I have done so much together and have enjoyed being best buddies. Though I am going alone on this trip he will be with me all the way.
TJ has been a great help to me in hiking with me and encouraging me to keep going. Just today he sent me a text message, that said; you're my hero Mom, I sure do love ya! TJ, little do you know, but you have been my hero since you were in the third grade, when you were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Over the years you have displayed extraordinary courage against a life changing disease, encountered rude comments from others, and taught so many about bravery and compassion and you have done it all with a smile. In the dictionary the meaning of a hero is; a man of distinguished bravery, that is you TJ.
As the days grow closer for this wonderful experience, I want to say THANK-YOU, TJ, for all you have taught me about being brave, having courage to go after my dreams, and to see the good in everyone. Oh and I sure do love ya too.
Though I know you haven't really said it, I know you are proud of my determination, my dedication, and my compassion towards this journey. I intend to give climbing the mountain, standing in awe at the beauty of Africa, and touching as many lives as I can, all I have. Or in other words and a phrase used between me and you, " I'll kick em in the ----!"
Thanks Bud, I love you more than you'll ever understand, as a mother's love is deeper than any other love.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This Ain't No Farm House

I got my itinerary for my hike and my safari from my guide, Bryson Mandari. Holy cow this place ain't no farm house I've ever seen. Check it out

Mt. Kilimanjaro
DAY 1: 29th January 2009: After breakfast and pack every thing for hiking mountain briefing before leave to gate for hiking reservations Marangu gate 1800m 1hour drive from the hotel in Moshi.. Start hiking with lunch box to Mandara 2727m 3-4hrs.Dinner and overnight

DAY 2: 30th January 2009 Breakfast and continue Horombo 3720m 5-6hrs with lunch packet. Dinner and Overnight at Horombo Hut.

DAY 3: 31st January 2009 Early morning after breakfast descend to Marangu gate where you will meet a Vehicle for your transfer to the Bristol hotel shower, rest and overnight.

Lake Manyara Safari
Day 1: February 1st 2009: Drive from Moshi to Lake Manyara National park with lunch packet, game drive, dinner and overnight Ngorongoro Farm House Lodge.

Day 2: February 2nd 2009: After breakfast drive to Ngorongoro crater with lunch
packet, game drive in the crater drive back in the late afternoon dinner and overnight Ngorongoro Farm House.

DAY 3: February 3rd 2009: Breakfast and drive to Tarangire with lunch packet game drive and drive back to Moshi.

February 4th drive to Kilimanjaro Airport to flight to Nairobi 7.40pm.
The next two & half weeks at different villages doing humanitarian work.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Am So Blessed

I really thought the time would never come for me to head off to Africa, however, it is almost here. Though there are days when I wonder if I am really ready for this life changing journey.
There have been so many people, who have supported me in so many ways that I thought it would nice to put the spot light on a few of them. I can't say THANKS enough to Tiffany!!! Tiff was the first one I told, "I,m going to Africa!" Tiff has never questioned my decision, she has always encouraged it. And if I have ever doubted myself she has been there to pick me up, telling me "you can do it Mom." Yes, I will be going by myself to climb the Mt. Kili and go on a safari, but I will then meet my group in Nairobi a week later. I'll be with the AILC group for the humanitarian part of my trip, but had I had the chance to chose one person to go with me, it would have been Tiffany. After all there is no one who knows me better than she.
Tiff, has been willing to help me with my training program, from hiking, to run 5-ks. She is constantly giving me words of encouragement, when others think I have lost my mind. I know without a doubt she will be with me all the way, if not physically there, I'll be in her thoughts for four weeks in February. Plus, there will be so many women and children who will benefit from the Burnett family's financial generosity.
I want to say THANK-YOU, Babe, you'll never know how much your positive attitude, your love and your help has meant to me. For so many years it has been me cheering you on and proudly exclaiming, hey that is my daughter! You have accomplished many wonderful things in your twenty-nine years and I have been there to brag about them all. I truly hope I can make you just as proud of me, and I hope you'll be there when I get off the plane, yelling " hey that's my Mom!"
I love you beyond words, and I am so blessed to have you as my daughter and my friend!
LOVE YOU BABE****Friends Forever