Saturday, October 15, 2011


I’m a self-proclaimed couch potato. Okay…there…I admit it! You got a problem with that? Well, my husband does! Ashley’s a high school sports coordinator and phys-ed instructor and very fit. In fact, this week he competed in the Australian Masters Games in track and field and medaled in all of his events, including a gold in the pentathlon! In spite of loving me a lot, he says I need an “attitude realignment” to change my ways. He’s finding it very difficult to coach me toward a “healthier lifestyle.” Can you believe it? He says I’m “hard work!”  Could he possibly be right? Nahhhh! I think he just needs to lighten up, hop off the treadmill, put his feet up and enjoy a Coca-cola and Nacho Cheese Doritos with me!

Ashley's 2011 medals
Gold medal in the pentathlon!

Bronze medal in the high jump!

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon
My dad owned a grocery store on the Oregon coast. (Some of you may already know this if you follow my blog.) Any way, he would get up in the mornings and race into the town of Cannon Beach where our store was located so he could open it up by 9am. In his haste, he would never eat breakfast until he opened the store and felt hunger pangs rumbling in his stomach. Not having the time to prepare anything, he would just reach for what ever was handy off the shelves. Every morning you could find him gulping down a Diet Coke and a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos which he often boasted was the “Breakfast of Champions!” We used to always say that he ate so many preservatives he would never age! He was a funny man and enjoyed life to its fullest.

I’m telling you all of this so you might have a better understanding of just how I became the way I am.  My husband says this is a “convenient cop-out and I have the diet of a person with a short life span!” To which I reply, “Lighten up and eat your bag of Cadbury chocolates!”

At the top of Hollow Mountain
 So how did this self-proclaimed couch potato end up at the top of Hollow Mountain in The Grampians National Park (in the heart of country Victoria, Australia) without a nearby car park in sight? Can you believe it? My husband decided to take this couch potato on a 3-hour hike! All this exercise is NOT my idea of a perfect vacation! Just where is the lounge by the pool, sipping cool drinks and napping under the cabana?

An easy stroll in the beginning...
Well, to my chagrin, we started out on our journey.
“So far…so good!” I thought to myself. As it turned out, this hike was more like taking an innocent lamb to the slaughter and I was the lamb!

As our hike progressed and became more difficult, I figured it was probably the worst it would get because, let’s face it, we were on a hike, right? Wrong! About two-thirds of the way into our hike, we faced a daunting task, climbing up a 70-degree rock face! I took one look up at what lay ahead and decided it was time to turn around! I was not prepared to make this my final resting place!  I began to plead with my husband that we couldn’t go any further. It’s one thing to climb up, but “What goes up must come down!” I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get back down and would find myself on the National news as helicopters lifted me to safety!
Before my steep ascent on the rocks behind me...
After much gentle coaxing, my husband encouraged me to face my fear and keep going. Why, oh why didn’t I pay more attention in gym class? My fit husband easily climbed on ahead and waited for me at the top as he waved his arms and boasted, “I’m the Grampians champion!”
"Rub it in!" I grizzled to myself. Suddenly I found myself alone. Do I reach up and climb or turn around and head for the nearest couch? Gulp! I guess I climb!

After much whining, I made it to the top and guess what? There was ANOTHER 70 degree rock face to climb! Will this couch potato ever get a break??? Well, we had gone too far to turn around now, so I just grinned and bared it, hoping against all odds that I wouldn’t become fodder for the evening news!

A cell phone interrupts the silence
After further climbing, we made it to the top and had lunch. There we were in the middle of nowhere, what felt like the top of the world. It was so beautiful, peaceful and so quiet. All we could hear was the sound of a hungry fly wanting a piece of our lunch and then… "Rrrrrring!" Wouldn’t you know it…Ashley’s cell phone! Boy, THAT would never have happened 20 years ago! Sometimes technology can be a real bummer! It was his son, wanting to chat. There was only one thing wrong with this climb besides the obvious cell phone ringing and wondering how I would get down!

Cute shops in Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia
Just the day before, we were wandering around the cute little town of Halls Gap where we are staying. It’s a little town nested in the foothills of The Grampians mountain range. I had seen a picture of Hollow Mountain on display and wanted to get that same photo for myself.  In fact, the image of the picture is what inspired me to keep climbing when I wanted to give up! So here we were at the top of Hollow Mountain and the photo op that I had been searching for was nowhere in sight!

Outside view of the crevasse we had to crawl through
As we began our descent, it wasn’t too far and we found a crevasse. At the end of the crevasse was the photo op I had been searching for, but now I had to face another fear! Besides being claustrophobic (which started on a missions trip to Russia in 2000), I also have an intense fear of spiders here in Australia (regular blog followers already know this!) So now what? Do I go around the crevasse and skip the photo that I had been looking for or squeeze inside hoping I’d make it out the other end? Well…a picture’s worth a thousand words, so here’s what I chose…
Inside Hollow Mountain. I did it!

To make a long story short, we made it back to base without a single injury and I am so proud of myself! I have photos of me doing things I never thought I’d do and have such a sense of accomplishment. My husband is proud of me and life couldn’t be better.

Now…just where did I put those Doritos?