30 Days

I’ve been in America for 30 days.  I spent my first 7 nights with a good friend and her family (also friends) and then Michael and Sam returned to Colorado and we spent the next 15 nights with some other good friends. This first 3 weeks felt very vacation-y, with out being an actual vacation.  We’ve been in our house for the last week.  Sleeping on the floor.  We didn’t have to move to our house.  Our friends were still happy to put us up, but we were feeling the need to try to establish a routine and try to make progress.  Our container was supposed to come 22 Aug, but we were selected for inspection so it didn’t.  Lucky us.

I’ve lived here before.  I’ve lived in this exact city, in this exact neighborhood, in this exact house.  So why is it so hard to return?  Somedays it feels impossible.  Like I don’t know how to do it.  I’ve found a gym.  I don’t know how I feel about it.  It is nice to be working out again (a month off makes for some really painful DOMs), but it’s not the same as CrossFit Chiang Mai.  I didn’t really expect that it would be, but I was hoping a bit.  The other day, after the workout, two ladies were chatting with me and being really nice and I froze.  Like a deer in headlights.  I had no idea how to be friendly.  So much for making new friends.  I left the gym and found myself doing what I seem to do a bunch of lately.  Crying in my car.

The day after this I was running errands and swung by Target.  I saw a dress I wanted to try on so I parked my empty cart by the dressing room and went to try on the dress.  It wasn’t right so I grabbed my cart and went off looking for stuff.  Stuff I didn’t need.  About the time I realized he only things I really needed were groceries I also realized that I’d grabbed the wrong cart.  I had no idea what to do.  A) Push the cart back to the dressing area?  It had been probably 15 or 20 min.  If it had been my cart that had gone missing I most likely would have already grabbed another and replaced the items.   B)  Abandon the cart right where I was, near the tablecloths, and walk to the front of the store and grab another cart?  Yes, that made sense.  (For some reason I never thought to take the cart to the front of the store with me and tell someone about my mistake.)  About 20 min after I abandoned the cart a store employee comes up and asks me if I took the wrong cart at the dressing room and when I said I did he wanted to know where I’d left it.  He was plenty friendly, but still I managed to walk away from this interaction in tears.  I finished my grocery shopping and paid and left with a new awareness of my inability to be nice.  And cried in my car.  I should probably get some kleenex for my car.

In other news, we made this decision.

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Day 17 – The Biggest Horse Statue in the World

I was up at 7am to get ready for an 8am ride to the Chinggis Khan Statue Complex.  This is the largest horse statue in the entire world.  It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records.

We toured the museum (four of us horse riders were on this excursion) and then made our way up to the observation platform.  The statue is impressive, but there’s nothing else to do there so we headed back to town.

We were dropped off at The State Department Store.  The first thing to do is eat.  I go for mutton dumplings.  I’m running out of time for Mongolian food and it turns out I like it.  After lunch I try to do some souvenir shopping.  I run into some friends from the horse riding and we finalize plans for dinner.  I head back to the hotel to rest a bit and then it’s off for my last dinner in Mongolia.  We eat at a really good Mongolian restaurant.  Again I have mutton dumplings and a salad.

After dinner I head back to the hotel to finish sorting my luggage.  It’s hard to get to sleep.  I’m nervous about flying and nervous about what’s to come, but I finally fall asleep at 1am after setting two alarms fro 5am.

Day 14 – Happy Trails

Woke up at 7am this morning.  I was really, really tired.  I think last night’s evening ride wore me out.  I had a dream last night that I was waiting on my horse for everyone else to catch up and I waited and I waited.  Then I realized I wasn’t sleeping, or at least not totally.  I was kind of in between sleep and wake.  I happened to brush the side of my tent and got my bearing and went back to sleep.  Breakfast was at 8am and by 9am we were on the trail for our last morning ride.

Today we only had a two hour ride.  We were riding the horses so they would be close to the rest of the horses so when we released them they could easily return to the rest of the herd.  After our ride, we let the horses rest, then we removed their saddles, bridles and leads and let them go.  They didn’t even look back.

Once we watched the horses reclaim their wildness we took off for town.  Our first stop was Tsooj’s house for lunch and a little sniff of something.

It was time to say goodbye to the wranglers.  Their job of wrangling horses and us was over and they have just a few days until it’s time to start preparations for the next trip.

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Adya, me, Dondov and Tsooj

After our farewell, it was time to drive to the night’s camp and make dinner.  We said goodbye to Nara when we said goodbye to the wranglers so we were left to fend for ourselves.

We spent the evening chatting around the fire and didn’t make it to bed until after midnight.  Good thing there’s no early morning expectations tomorrow.

Day 13 – In the Toilet and Across the Steppe

Up early at 6:15.  Wandered over to the toilet – because it’s what you do – and fell in.   With both feet.  Kind of sunk in to the mess.  This meant an early morning bath in the cold river was necessary.  Not the best start to my day, but things could only get better, right?

The rest of the morning went as usual – sleeping bag fight and all.  There was one difference – my allergies were so much better.  My eyes weren’t gritty and itchy.  Nara’s sunglasses plus my regular schedule or drugs seem to have done the trick.  (fingers crossed they keep on working.)  For the rest of the trip I’ll be borrowing a pair from Pat & Larry.  They aren’t quite as fancy, but they will do.

Today’s ride started on a forest path then we went over some hills and through some valleys.  Eventually we came to a place where we could canter and gallop ending headed up a hill.  I managed what I’m certain was some pretty awesome trick riding – accidentally, of course.  My right foot came out of my stirrup and I came out of my saddle.  It felt like I was doing the splits, with my right foot pointed straight up at the sky.  Adya, the wrangler who was supervising us, saw what was going on.  He didn’t look so impressed, he looked a bit more worried.  But I pulled myself back into my saddle and got a big thumbs up and a smile form Adya – which I’m pretty sure translates to “job well done.”

No one else saw this amazing feat and there are no pictures, but I did draw a picture in my journal that I can share.

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head not to scale

We made it to camp around 1p and luckily it was a bright sunshiny day.  I needed to wash my pajamas, because of falling in the toilet fully dressed.

We had dinner at 7p followed by an evening ride for all who were interested.  This was probably one of my favorite rides of the trip.  We got to do a bit of everything and there was a lot of different terrain.

When we got back in we were ready for a bit of beer, luckily someone had remembered to put a 2 liter in the fridge.

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11:10p bedtime and almost dark.

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Day 12 – Going Glam

Up at 6:40a this morning.  Did all the usual and was on the trail by 9am.

Nara, the cook, loaned me a pair of sunglasses today.  Super fancy glasses with gold and rubies.  I didn’t get a picture of them and I didn’t see myself in them (no mirrors), but I am certain I was looking good.

We got in from the ride and had a restful evening around camp.  The sunglasses worked like magic pollen barriers.  My eyes were so much better tonight.

I didn’t journal very much this day and the pictures are few, but I did get a pic of the afternoon rainbow.

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Day 10 – Briefly Bareback

Was up at 6:50a.  Breakfast was oatmeal.  Oatmeal was for breakfast everyday.

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Good morning!

Today was a rest day, we could choose to go for a ride or we could hang out at camp and just chill.  I debated taking a rest, but decided I’d paid to ride horses so ride horses I would.  I was on a different horse today – Twitter.  Roy John was recovering from a saddle sore on his back.

We stopped to visit a ger and had all the usual plus some fried cheese.  When we stepped out of the ger we found a volleyball and played a short game.

 

While we were away from camp another sheep had been acquired and dispatched.  We arrived just in time to get in on sampling some of the delicacies.  Today I had some blood pudding, liver and lungs.  Then it was time for a nap.

During the evening we gave bareback riding a try (these horses have some boney backs) and we tried out the Mongolian saddle (an acquired taste I think).

Dinner and bedtime followed soon after.

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10pm time for sleep

Day 8 – Clean

Up at 6:50 and did all the usual morning stuff.  Getting much more efficient at everything – except the sleeping bag.

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6:50am view from my tent

We were riding by 9:30am.

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Early in the morning we came across a herder who obviously needed our help getting his cows and yaks where they needed to be.  At least it felt like we were helping.

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Mid-morning snack break.  The guys were very good at relaxing and chatting.

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Another bridge too cross – not every horse was willing.

We made it to camp and discovered rhubarb and that our tents needed to be set up.

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Looking rough and eating rhubarb

It was a short morning ride and intern Larry just didn’t have time.  After we set up camp we had lunch and then we were off to the hot baths.

The hot baths were amazing.  For the first time in many days I had all the pollen off me and I could almost breath clearly and I had clean hair!

After we were all clean we returned to camp, had dinner, and then those that wanted went for an evening ride (or as I call it a fresh coat of pollen.)

Back to camp and to bed about 10p.

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10 at night and way too bright