The Rest of the Story

by Bob Sparrow


Dom crossing Khumbu Ice Fall on Mt. Everest


Charged with a most difficult task of following Suzanne’s eloquent reprise of her emotional account of Melissa Harrington Hughes’ 9/11 experience, and given that I have barely seen the outside of my home in the last six weeks, I submit a rather pedestrian look at updating some past blog stories.

Nepal Earthquake

Previous blog links:

     Emails from Nepal

     Feeling the Nepal Earthquake Here at Home


Kathmandu, Nepal earthquake

The rest of this story begins with an email from our trekking guide in the Himalayas, Dom, saying that he and his family (wife and two children) were still living in a tent due to their home being destroyed by the earthquake in April 2015 and asking for some help.  Patrick and I and several friends sent money to him back in May 2015, but due to the earthquake, the trekking business was not doing so well in Nepal so Dom had limited income opportunities.  I decided to ask our most-generous neighborhood if they wanted to help.  They responded in spades and I was able to send Dom over $1,000, which in Kathmandu is like a year’s income. Contributors commented on how nice it was to donate knowing that all the money was going to where it’s suppose to and that it is someone with a personal connection.  Dom was most grateful.  I asked him if he could send some pictures of his family and the surrounding area so that I could share them with the neighbors who contributed.  He did, including a picture of him on Mt. Everest, getting to Camp 4, which is over 26,000 feet in elevation.  He was attempting to summit Everest without oxygen, something only a handful of people have done.  He did not do it this time, but he said next time he will use oxygen and get to the top.  Thankfully Dom is back in business.

ramsL.A. and the NFL

Previous blog link:   Why L.A. Will Never Get an NFL Team                      

In April of last year I predicted that Los Angeles would never get an NFL team for a variety of reasons.  Whether L.A. actually got an NFL team was still up for debate after the Rams lost their season opener to the 49ers 28-0, but after a win against a tough Seattle team last Sunday, my prediction is now officially wrong.  It was worth it just to watch Pete Carroll go apoplectic on the sidelines.

Murder on the Road to Hana

Previous blog link:


Capobianco – looks innocent to me!

I was driving by myself on the road to Hana, with no alibi, on the day Carly Scott was declared ‘missing’ in the area and subsequently found murdered.  I did pick up a strange female hitchhiker that day, but I swear I am not a person of interest!  Steven Capobianco, however is, in fact he has moved on from a ‘person of interest’ to being incarcerated and standing trial for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scott.  He is also accused of setting her vehicle on fire.  Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant at the time with an unborn child fathered by the defendant.  Capobianco has pleaded not guilty to the charges.  The Maui trial has been on-going since June 27, 2016; yes, two-and-a-half months!  Evidence presented thus far implicates Capobianco as the murderer.  Stay tuned for final verdict.

Hip, Hip Away

Thanks again to all you well-wishers – the hip is great; played golf last week (score not important and it’s really none of your business); and walked 5 miles on Thursday. In no time I’ll be smelling those pine trees in the local mountains.




The Best & Worst of 2015

by Bob Sparrow

Where's waldoTwenty-fifteen was a RED BANNER year in terms of playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ and showing up in a lot of fun and interesting places. I’ve enjoyed having you readers come along vicariously, which has prompted many of you to ask, “Where are ‘we’ going next year?” As of this writing it seems I’ll be lucky to get to the end of my driveway to pick up the paper, so forgive me if I do a little reminiscing of the mostly Good, but sometimes the Bad and the Ugly of my 2015 travels.

1st Quarter

Good: Visit with Suzanne and Alan in Scottsdale where I had my Best Cigar of the Year, A Cuban, from Bob Gett, while overlooking Scottsdale sitting in his and Liz’s beautiful backyard after a delicious dinner.

Bad Idea: Using my National Geographic Expeditions to travel the world ‘through beer’; good at the time, bad the next day.

The Best Place to Live: Completing the ‘Southern California Trifecta’ – breakfast at a golf course in Palm Desert, lunch at a ski lodge in the San Bernardino Mountains and dinner at Duke’s in Huntington Beach.

2nd Quarter


Ladder Canyon



Great: My time with the ‘odd couple’, Patrick Michael and Marc Webb, on our hike through the unique terrain of ‘Ladder Canyon’ adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park.

Best time with my in-laws (No that’s not an oxymoron): Rochester, Minnesota celebrating Warren & Phyllis Barnes 70th Wedding Anniversary.

Biggest surprise: Hiking in the draught-stricken Grand Canyon in the Havasupai Indian Reservation with Rick & Chris Fisher and finding gushing waterfalls generated from flowing underground springs.

Bad and Sad: the overweight and unfriendly Indians at Havasupai.

Bad prediction: Saying LA would never have an NFL team; it looks like they could have up to three by next season. Good: Rams; Bad: Chargers; Ugly: Raiders


Kathmandu, Nepal

Bad news: The earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal that destroyed thousands of homes, including Dom’s, our Himalayan guide; fortunately the family survived with no injuries.

3rd Quarter

Best time with the family: No question about it, our family gathering at Rocky Ridge at Lake Tahoe – great place, greater people!

Baltic Cruise . . .

Best photo: the photo I took of the ‘No Photos’ sign as I was trying to sneak into Russia at Passport Control in St. Petersburg

no photos


Best reunion: After 28 years, seeting Mira, our au pair for Dana, in Helsinki

Best & Worse: St. Petersburg – spectacular sights, depressing people

Great traveling companions: Jack & JJ Budd, John & Judy VanBoxmeer and John & Mary Billham and of course Linda

Ugly: The living conditions in Sachenhausen, the concentration camp outside of Berlin

4th Quarter

The Inca Trail


Winaywayna, Peru

Good: Winaywayna – the mini Machu Picchu, without the crowds

Bad: Mosquito bites I’m still scratching

Ugly: Disneyland-like crowds at Machu Picchu.

As 100 year old, Frank Sinatra would have said, “It was a very good year.”

So while I’m working on some adventures for this year, I’m sure you’ll find lots of laughs from our politicians in this election year.



Emails from Nepal

by Bob Sparrow

buildings crumbling


Yes, I had heard from the travel agent that both Dom and Kiran were OK after the initial earthquake, but my three emails to Dom continued to go unanswered. All kinds of scenarios were running through my head as I wondered if the travel agency in New York really knew what was going on in Nepal and specifically with Dom and Kiran? I certainly wanted to believe they were OK, but wanted confirmation from Dom. I realized that responding to my emails had to be fairly low on Dom’s priority list at a time like this, but none-the-less I had hoped to hear from him to first, confirm that he and his family and Kiran were truly OK and secondly to try to get a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ perspective of how the nation of Nepal, and Dom specifically, was coping with this disaster.

I checked my email day and night, several times. Six anxious days passed and finally an email arrives from Dom. It reads as follows (I’ve edited it for easier reading – I think we’d all probably have difficulty writing in Nepalese if the situation were reversed):


Namaste, (nom-ess-tay – a traditional Hindu salutation meaning “I bow to the divine in you”)

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Kiran – the mighty porter

     Thank you for your email … yes there was big earthquake. Sorry for late reply, my phone was destroyed so I’m using a friends – the Internet and electricity have been out for many days. Kiran is fine and I am fine with my family as well although we lost everything. Our home was flatted along with everything in it. We now live in a tent in an open field away from buildings, along with most of the people from our village. Because I know the Himalayas well, I have been in the mountains trying to help some of the more remote villages where help cannot reach. Thanks for your thoughts and all the blogs about our trekking.  I am so happy to keep in touch with you.


 His email brought to life for me the nightmare that he and many of his countrymen must be going through . . . his home is now a tent in an open field! It was so like Dom, insuring that his family was safe, then setting out into the mountains that he knows so well to help others.

I wrote him back, thanking him for his email and telling him that Patrick and I would like to send him some money and asked how to do that. He replied . . .

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Dom in the Himalayas

Thank you very much for your email. It will be big support for me. I have a bank account but for a long time not using so better send by Western Union money transfer.

Name: Dom Bahadur Tamang             Address: Okhaldhunga – Shreechaur -7, Nepal

 I am very grateful for you and Patrick. It’s not easy even to write email. I am using friend’s mobile. Sorry for late reply. Thanks and best regards. Dom from Kathmandu 

With all the scam charities out there, Patrick and I gave money with the satisfaction of knowing that our donation was not only going directly to someone who actually needed it, but someone who we actually knew and admired.

I asked Dom to let me know when he received the money, as I didn’t want it to end up in the pocket of some Western Union clerk.  I had confirmed that it was picked up last Thursday, but had not heard from Dom, so I wasn’t sure he was the one that picked it up.  Finally, this past Sunday I received an email from Dom saying he was sorry for the delay, but he was helping in the village and yes, he had picked up the money and returned to his village to help with the reconstruction process. He was very thankful.


Nepal ‘tent city’

The second earthquake, which fortunately was centered in a more remote region of Nepal, still killed over 90 people at last count and injured over 1,200, bringing the death toll for both earthquakes to well over 8,000, injuries to over 20,000 and physical damage to over half a million homes.

‘Tent cities’ have sprung up throughout the area and are filled with people who have lost their homes as well as those afraid to go back to their homes for fear of another earthquake.

The losses from these two quakes will be felt for many years to come. As a trekking guide, Dom will have less opportunity to earn a living, as tourism to the Himalayas will certainly drop off dramatically in the near term.

To Dom, Kiran and all Nepalese – “Namaste, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”



Feeling the Nepal Earthquake Here at Home

by Bob Sparrow

2014-06-01 23.15.59


Those of you who have been following us for at least a year know that I was in Nepal a little less than a year ago visiting Kathmandu and trekking in the Himalayas, so I felt particularly saddened by the news of the recent earthquake in Nepal. Like most of you I felt so bad for these really good people, who had so little to start with and now have less – their whole world has been turned upside down – literally.

Additionally my personal concern was for the two wonderful people from there that I got to know very well by trekking with them for a week in the Himalayans – Dom, our guide and Kirin our porter (They are pictured on my Facebook homepage). They both lived in and around Kathmandu, Dom with a wife and two children, Kirin, is single. I emailed the travel agency in New York that booked our trip to ask if they had an email address for Dom, or any way to check on the status of both Dom and Kirin.


Everest Base Camp

I heard yesterday morning from the travel agency that Dom and his family are OK, but no word on Kirin yet. Although I knew that communicating with Nepal right now was difficult at best, I sent another email pleading with the travel agent to do everything she could to check on Kirin’s status.

The riots in Baltimore and the continuing California draught have pushed the Nepal story out of the headlines, but those still following it know that the death toll has risen above 5,000 as of this writing and could get to as much at 10,000 before it’s over. Tens of thousands of people are living in tents and are still without adequate food and water, as relief is slow or non-existent to many of the outlying villages.

If you’re so inclined, there are plenty of places to donate to this cause, I chose the one here on Facebook at,

2014-06-01 23.16.11


The quake that rocked the tallest mountain in the world devastated Everest Base Camp; two major avalanches over the last two years have killed at least 27 Sherpa guides. The climbing season, which just started, is now over for the year.


PS; I just received word from the travel agent this morning that Kirin is all right as well!! Happy for them both, but so heartbroken for all those Nepalese living this nightmare.


Nepal Postscript

2014-06-02 17.47.19

Annapurna South

As you can probably tell, I love to travel, and part of what make travel so enjoyable is coming home. I am now home at last, with a head full of incredible memories of awe-inspiring mountains, the lakeside, tourist town of Pukhara, the humid, elephant-filled jungle lowlands of Chitwan National Park and the teeming city of Kathmandu.

Kunmig airport

The Modern Kunming Airport

I don’t know if I believe the slogan, “Getting there is half the fun”, but I can tell you this, getting home is a pain in the ass . . . literally! For us, it clearly won the battle of ‘the one bad day’ . . . or two. We were picked up at our hotel in Kathmandu at 1:30 on Friday afternoon (That’s around midnight on Thursday back on the left coast) for a 4:30 flight from Kathmandu to Kunming, China. We arrived there around 7:30 p.m. and had to pick up our checked baggage, as it could not be sent directly from Kathmandu to Los Angeles. Unfortunately our connecting flight to Shanghai, China wasn’t until 8:00 the next morning, so we had ‘a few’ hours to kill at the airport – like all night! We thought about going to a nearby hotel, but then decided we’d just tough it out and hang at the airport. After we wandered through all the shops, eateries and restrooms, we cozied up to an airport bench with our backpacks and luggage and tried, in vain, to get some sleep. The next morning we departed at 8:00 and arrived in a very smoggy Shanghai around 11:00 a.m. We then had about two hours to kill before departing for Los Angeles at 1:00 p.m. After an 11 hour flight, we arrived in LA at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. I don’t think Patrick is going to let me book anymore of his flights.

For those keeping score at home, that’s crossing through 11 time zone and the International Date Line for a total of 36 hours from start to finish! Now that I’m in the comforts of my own home, I like to say that it wasn’t that bad – but it actually was.

2014-06-04 01.53.33

Those Damn Stone Steps

I think the message was clear from the blogs posted over the last two weeks that our favorite part of the trip was our time spent in the Himalayas – the scenery, the people, our time with Dom and Kirin and that feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day that was only relieved by a hot shower and a cold beer.

Each time I posted over the last two weeks, a Jimmy Buffett lyric echoed in my head and helped me realize why I love to travel and write:

“If you ever wonder why you ride this carrousel,

You do it for the stories you can tell”

So thank you Jimmy and thank you to all who followed us on our adventure and particularly those who took the time to comment on the blog – it’s always good to hear from home. I did try to respond to them all, but our schedule and connectivity issues wouldn’t allow, but I did read, and sincerely appreciated every one.

Thanks to sister Suzanne, who I’m sure edited and cleaned up my posts and kept me abreast of what was going on back home.

Thank you to Patrick, for taking two weeks off work to join me – I couldn’t have had a better trekking and travel companion. We spent 24/7 x 2 together and we’re still friends . . . I think.


Inspired by Jimmy Buffett

My biggest THANK YOU goes to my wonderful wife, Linda, who surprised me with this amazing trip for my 70th birthday. I have to admit that Kathmandu was not on my rather extensive ‘Bucket List’, but it turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime. I love you Linda and you cannot know how much this trip meant to me.



Day 12 – Nepal Diary: The Texture of Kathmandu



Kathmandu is without equivocation the most ‘foreign’ foreign city I have ever visited. Everything about it, its look, its feel, its sound, its smell, its texture – is different. Nepal, which is a landlocked country between China and India, is one of the poorest counties in the world and seems to be struggling with its identity, as is its capital, Kathmandu. Its infrastructure is in disrepair. Thousands of cars, motorcycles/scooters and pedestrians all trying to get somewhere, but with no traffic lights or signs and no lines in the middle of the road, the congestion in this city of four million is unimaginable. Kathmandu is a cultural fusion of varying economic means, religions and castes. Yes, it has a caste system where people are divided into four very distinct statuses, and if you were born in the bottom caste, there is no working hard and moving up; no matter what you do, you’ll remain in the bottom caste. Eighty percent of the population is Hindu, fifteen percent is Buddhist, with Muslims and Christians making up the last five percent. But it seems that religious differences are better tolerated here than in most places in the world.

Nepal dress

Nealese attire

Buildings in the city are typically low, brick or plaster facades with tile or tin roofs. Sometime they have a door; sometimes it’s just a curtain that covers the opening. Everything looks brown or gray, as most of the roads are dirt and all the traffic stirs up lots of dirt and grime. I see bamboo scaffolding on a few buildings that are being refurbished. Telephone pole spaced every few hundred yards, have hundreds of wires coming from them and going in all directions. People are dressed in various styles, most of the men are in ‘western’ attire, although the older men will wear a Dhaka topi – a hat, but the majority of women wear saris or other more traditional clothing. If a woman is married, she will wear red, single women can wear any color but red.

We visited Pashupatinath, the oldest Hindu temple in Nepal; it is here that we witnessed a cremation. In this case it was a young boy whose body was cover as he lay by the river. A lady, who we assumed to be the mother, was nearby wailing and being comforted by her friends, as she looked at her son for the last time. The body was taken to a spot next to the river where a funeral pyre was prepared. The body was burned and the ashes were pushed into the river. This river flows into the Ganges River in India, which the Hindus believe to be holy. It was a very moving ceremony.


Funeral Pyre

We next visited Bhaktapur, a city within Kathmandu, and the oldest city in Nepal. Its history goes back to the 7th century, when it was the capital of Nepal. The city is filled with both Hindu and Buddhist shrines and has an incredible history of kings, art and war. We attended a lecture on the art of Mandala, the use of millions of grains of colored sand used by Tibetan Monks to create a‘circle of life’ painting. It take months to complete just one piece and when it’s complete, it is dumped into a river, so it can spread its goodness to the rest of the world. The samples that we were shown were beautiful – and powerful.

Our final stop for the day was at Swayambhunath, more simply the ‘Monkey Temple’, due to the number of monkeys that inhabit the oldest of Buddha temples in Nepal, dating back to the 5th century. It tells the history of the creation of the city of Kathmandu and holds many artifacts that are particularly important to the Buddhist religion. It is high on a hill and provides a sweeping view of the Kathmandu valley.


Mandala by Tibetan Monk

With all its foreignness, I ended up liking Kathmandu a great deal, because of the people. They were always friendly, courteous and always willing to help now matter what the circumstance. They work hard, especially the women, and cope in a world in which most of us would surly struggle.

Our incredible adventure is coming to and end, so this will be my last post from Nepal. We leave tomorrow (Friday) and get home Saturday. Since I’ll have 30+ hours on planes and in airports, I’ll try to put together some overall perspectives from Patrick and me and post them on Monday.

Thanks for following along.

Day 10/11 – Nepal Diary: The Elegant Elephant

Disney Jungle Cruise

Disney it was not

Today in Chitwan was a day to explore elephants . . . in detail, but first our canoe trip down a muddy river. It did not stack up favorably to the Disney’s Jungle Cruise. No monkeys climbing trees, no hippos spitting at us, no alligators, not even some stupid jokes. Our guide did say that there was a Kingfisher bird way off in the distance somewhere, but I’ll be damn if I saw him. The canoe trip mercifully ended with nary a sighting if you don’t count the log that looked like part of an alligator.

We then headed to the EBC, the Elephant Birthing Center, which was actually fairly interesting and one of the premier elephant breading centers in the world and boasts the birthing of the world’s only set of elephant twins. There were several baby elephants wandering around the grounds that you could actually touch and feed grass to, which I did. We next headed to the elephant bathing area, where we watched the trainers lead the elephants into the river then jump on their back with a brush and give them a good scrubbing. It was sort of like an elephant car wash – I think a wax and pedicure was extra.


“Does this elephant have reverse?”

After lunch we did an elephant safari. Four people crammed into a wooden orange crate on top of an elephant – very uncomfortable, especially if your elephant needed a realignment or it’s tires rotated, which ours apparently did, as it was a very bumpy ride.  I like elephants, they may be my favorite animal, what with their size, strength and good memory, but I don’t think the elephant enjoyed this any more than we did.  We spent an hour and a half wandering through the jungle in search of wild animals. We saw a dog. I was riding facing backwards, so most of the views I had were of the elephant’s ass. Actually we did see a one-horned rhino mother with her baby. The one-horned rhinos are called Indian rhinos because they are found in the Indian/Asia area, as apposed to the two-horned rhino, which are found in Africa. Unlike the India/Africa elephant, it is easy to tell the Indian from the African rhino . . . JUST COUNT THEIR HORNS!!!

DSC01382Our safari lasted an hour-and-a-half, by which time my legs were numb and we had no more chance of seeing a Bengal Tiger than we did of seeing a Detroit Tiger, or Tiger Woods or Tony the Tiger for that matter. If elephant safaris were given as prizes and the hour-and-a-half safari was the first place prize, second prize would be a three-hour safari.

The trip was made easier by our safari mates, a very fun Malaysian couple from Kuala Lumpur. They entertained us throughout our safari as well as at dinner back at the hotel that night. He says that he is a Malaysian first and a Chinese second, but that he’s really a ‘banana’. Banana? I asked. Yes, that’s an Asian (yellow on the outside), who is really like an American (white on the inside).


A one-cart, two-ox parade

The next morning we took an oxcart ride through several villages close to our hotel – I felt like I was a runner-up for Mr. Chitwan Congeniality, waving to the masses as we passed through their village.

We boarded Buddha Airlines for the short flight (18 minutes) to Kathmandu where we checked into the Shanker Hotel – I know it doesn’t sound healthy, but it’s actually a 5-star hotel – a far cry from the teahouses in the Himalayans that we were staying in, although I miss the teahouse’s charm.

Thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes for Dana – the last I heard she had a balloon, rather than a stint, put in and is now home and feeling great.


Day 4 – Nepal Diary: Let Me Introduce the Boys in the Band

(No connectivity in last location so I’m a day late and a couple of Rupees short)

First, thank you for all the wonderful responses I’ve received from those who are following this adventure. I feel I have your company as I travel to places unknown.

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Annapurna South

We leave Chomrong, but not before getting this great photo of a sunrise over Annapurna South – simply awe-inspiring.

Let me officially introduce our crew, hopefully with pictures that heretofore I’ve not been able to upload. Dom our guide, I have come to find out, is not a Sherpa. Sherpa is an ethic group from high in the Himalayans. Dom is a Tamang, which is a group from the Himalayan foothill region; he speaks very good English and has been a guide in the Himalayan for 15 years, doing many treks around Everest, although he has not summited it yet. He is extremely accommodating and a really good guy. He is 35 years old, married with 2 children who live in Kathmandu. His parents live in eastern Nepal and in order to see them he must take a bus that takes all day to get relatively close and then he must walk for another full day to get to their home. So they don’t stop by for Sunday dinner that often. We have nicknamed him, ‘El Hefe’ – the boss.

2014-06-01 23.15.59


Our porter, Kirin is 25, married with one child and they also live in Kathmandu. He is Magar, another ethnic group from the Himalayan foothills. Both Magar and Tamang are Tibetan influenced and Buddhist by religion. Kirin is about 5’3” and honestly does not weight more than 110 pounds, yet he is carrying a huge pack with most of our stuff in it weighing between 60-70 pounds with only a strap he places on his forehead. He is amazing; we have nicknamed him, ‘The Stud’.    

Today was a short trek, as we went almost straight downhill from Chomrong to Jhinu, a distance of only a couple of miles, all on thousands of stone steps, not great for old football knees. I was thinking if Linda would have given me this trip for my 80th birthday she probably could have same money and bought that one-way ticket.

2014-06-01 23.16.11


After lunch we headed to some hot springs that are adjacent to the Maudi Chola (river) about a half mile away. Large rock pools have been built to trap the natural hot water coming up from the ground. The warm water felt good on some tired muscles and sore knees. On our hike back to our ‘tea house’ (which is what they call the small hotels we stay in) it started to rain. Then it started to really rain – we experienced our first monsoon. We sat outside our room, had a Nepal Ice beer and watched the rain. In bed by 7:30 . . . again.


Day 1 – Nepal Diary: The Ass-Kicking

By Bob Sparrow

Nepal: Monday, June 2, 2014

NOT the Four Seasons

NOT the Four Seasons

It was a long day yesterday, I guess it was two days, but we arrived on time and in one piece. The Kathmandu airport was strangely bustling at 10:00 last night. After clearing customs we looked for ‘our ride’ outside – it’s strange to see your name on a sign half way around the world, but there it was. It was not raining, but it had been most of the day, so the streets were muddy and filled with potholes. Our hotel, The Shakti Plus would not be mistaken for the Four Seasons. We climbed to the fourth floor (no elevator) and settled in to our small room. The bed had all the comfort of a pool table, which one might have slept on during college when over-served, not that I could relate to that. Given the cacophony of noise coming up from the street outside and the squadron of dive-bombing mosquitoes on the inside, sleep didn’t come. But reclining and closing my eyes was a relief from those cushy airline seats. After a hot, invigorating shower, OK cold showers are also very invigorating; we’re back to the airport for more flying. Oh boy!

We board a twin-engine prop Shirik Airline plane – I think Shirik is Nepalese for Rickshaw. The flight is actually quite smooth as we pass the Himalayan Mountains on our right. This is the first that we’ve seen them and they are magnificent! We land in Pokhara and are met by our Sherpa guide (Dom) and our porter (Kirin). We are then driven through the lakeside village of Pokhara and head up into the foothills. The scenery changes from bustling ‘city-life’ to one of spreading farms. We see cows, horses, goats, chicken, corn and lots of dry rice fields waiting for the monsoons to fill the patties terraced on the hillside. In about an hour and a half we reach our trailhead town of Nayapul.

We ‘saddle up’ our packs and the ass-kicking begins. The first part of this hike is basically straight up for about 7 miles using rock steps. Did I mention that it was ass-kicking? Six hours later we wearily stumble into the village of Ghrandruk with a spectacular view of the Annapurna mountains. Patrick and I agreed that we had never been on a more exhausting hike, not Half Dome, not Whitney – this was serious!

We get nice accommodations, for the area, take a shower and our plan was to get something to eat, but we both laid down and didn’t get up until morning to the crowing of a rooster at 3:30 – I resolved to have chicken for dinner that night.


Going to Kathmandu

by Bob Sparrow

“If I ever get out of here, I think I’m going to Katmandu”                                                                                                

                        Katmandu, Bob Seger



If Saturday’s Air Canada Flight 55 out of Los Angels to Vancouver was on time, I will indeed be ‘out of here’ and in Kathmandu by the time you’re reading this. No, LA to Vancouver didn’t seem like the most direct way to me either, but it actually was the first leg of the shortest (time-wise) that I could find . . . and afford – 26 hrs 33 mins (My back hurt just writing that). From Vancouver to Guangzhou, China (which is about 95 miles northwest of Hong Kong) and from there into Kathmandu, Nepal. Why Kathmandu, you ask? It was a 70th birthday gift from my wife. No, it was not a one-way ticket! Like most things she buys, she got a ‘deal’ on Groupon – a 12-day trip for two to Nepal, which included a 5-day trek into the Himalayas. Not being a hiker herself, she is not part of the ‘for two’. So I’m with my hiking buddy, who I’ve done lots of hikes with, including Mt. Whitney and Half Dome, Patrick “Trail Boss” Michael. He’s a good friend & neighbor, a good hiker with a quick smile and an engineer by trade, so we have checklists for our checklists. We had both been looking forward to this trip for several months, when after we told a 70+ lady our itinerary, she said that she and several of her friends did that same trip last year. We thought, ‘This may not be quite the adventure we were looking for’, so I contacted our travel agent and asked if there was a little more challenging trek we could take. She answered in spades. We’re now spending 8 days trekking in the Himalayas, with a Sherpa guide and a porter (we’re not sure if that’s a person or an oxen) and reaching altitudes of just under 14,000 feet.Pokhara We should have arrived in Kathmandu around 10:30 Sunday night and be flying out of Kathmandu early Monday morning (because we needed some more flight time!) into the city of Pokhara (photo at right) where our trekking will begin that afternoon. Over the next several days we will be working our way up to Annapurna Base Camp at an elevation of 13,500 feet. Annapurna, at 26,545 feet is the 10th highest mountain in the world, but ranks #1 as the most dangerous to climb – it has a summit-to-fatality ratio of 38% (By contrast, Mt. Everest has a 9% ratio). That’s only one of the reasons we’re only going to Base Camp, no fatalities there unless it’s from the dal-bhat-tarkari soup. We’ll also be visiting the beautiful Chitwan National Park, doing some river rafting, taking an elephant ride safari, where we hope to see the elusive Bengal Tiger as well as traveling by ox cart through an elephant breeding camp to our hotel. I’ll be used to the oxen’s pace having driven in LA commute traffic.


Bengal Tiger

Nepal is 12 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Pacific Daylight Time (Yes, 45 minutes, just another oddity of this part of the world), so I’ll try to sum up my activities at the end of my day and post so you’ll get it that morning. I’ve read that wifi can be very dodgy over there, so if you don’t hear from me I probably just can’t connect . . . or had a very boring day. We’re crossing our fingers that the monsoons don’t come earlier than expected . . . oops, wait a minute, I just checked the 10 day forecast for Nepal: Rain and thunderstorms everyday for the first week.

It’ll be an adventure!