Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gorge Scrambling

Yet again, I think I have found my favorite OP activity! Today was so much fun! I had a great time from the time I woke up this morning until this very moment. Today we went gorge scrambling, and you may ask what that is. Basically it is climbing up a big waterfall. It reminded me so much of my childhood playing around the crick with Josh and Joe. It was so much fun!

So the best way to describe the events are through pictures. You have to imagine yourself climbing up the most beautiful waterfall you have ever seen. Picture this waterfall in a beautifully wooded area with big boulders. The only downfall to the day was the fact that the water was cold. The weather was beautiful. It was a little windy but we really couldn't tell since we were in the woods. The sun was shinning and everyone was in great spirits. Basically we just monkeyed around and climbed up whatever way we found fit. Every so often Llion would give us a challenge such as the one you can see here. This picture off to the left represents our first obstacle. The two rocks put together there collectively make up the Elephant's Bum. What we had to do was shimmy through the crack and come up on the other side. Not too bad unless you are a little claustrophobic. We were crawling through the rushing water so that was fun too. Our first chance to really get wet, but don't worry, there would be plenty more opportunities.

This picture here is Melissa, Lauren and Riley just goofing around. We were waiting for the guys to finish climbing through the Elephant's Bum...
As you can see, the surroundings were so beautiful. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a nice photo. Best part about the photo is the purple waterproof outfit from head to toe, the life vest (or buoyancy aid as they call them here) and the rockin' orange helmet. I know I look sexy, be jealous!
Our next adventure or obstacle was from this scene here. Llion rigged up some ropes to help us climb along this slippery (or slippy as Llion says) rock face. As you can see it was nice and wet which did make it extra slippery. Not to mention our wellies (boots) were not the best rock climbing shoes. So we got to play monkey on the ropes. We swung from one to the next while trying not to fall in. Most of us faired pretty well on the task and we had some great teamwork moments.
After monkeying around we got to play snake while thinking skinny. Llion challenged us to squeeze through some pretty tight spaces. It was a lot of fun and I was a little nervous. I really don't like being in places I can't get out of, but I took my time and did some deep breathing. I made it through the first one no problem, but the second one was just a little too small. I tried but I just didn't fit, but at least I tried!
After squeezing through some tights spots we got to feel the "power" of the waterfall itself. Our "challenge" was to stand under the waterfall and feel it's power. This wasn't as bad as it seemed, besides the fact that it was super cold. Like I said we had plenty of opportunities to get wet. The waterproofs actually did their job quite well. I stayed pretty dry while standing under the powerful waterfall.
 After some more climbing we came to yet another gorgeous shot of the waterfall. we decided it was time to get a group shot. We messed around and got some fun ones. but we also managed to take a decent one too. So front row starting with me then Melissa and Lauren. Back row is K.J. Eric (goofball pose) Woody (a.k.a. Matt) and Riley. We sure missed Teresa who is normally part of our Thursday team. We are really a great group and I feel so lucky to get to hang out with these guys every week!

After we managed to make it all the way to the top of the gorge we came to a little watering hole. You could imagine this as a hot tub; deep in the middle with a ledge all the way around. Almost like a hot tub right? Yeah right! Try water that is so cold it feels like needles when you jump in. Why the heck would we jump into freeing cold water? Why not!? is what I say! This was our last challenge of the day and oh man it was something! I was so excited to jump in, not really sure why, but I was excited. As soon as I hit that icy cold water I was wondering what in the hell possessed me to do such a stupid thing? Well because of the challenge and everyone else did it so I had to too! It was so thrilling to find the courage to jump. As soon as I hit the water, well you can guess. I was so cold all I could think about was getting out. I struggled to swim to the "ledge" because my legs and arms didn't really work too well in the cold water. The best part about being wet was the fact that my body quickly warmed the layer of water around me. The water in my wellies soon warmed up and kept my feet nice and warm.

We hiked the path back down and celebrated the great day we just had. Everyone had such a good time! Our final challenge was to change out of our soaking wet clothes into something dry. Boy was that fun! I just love changing in the middle of the car park (parking lot). It took a lot of effort but I managed. I'm pretty sure this was my favorite day. The weather was amazing and the scenery was beautiful. I can't wait for next time!

Until next time...


Monday, March 28, 2011

Back Where I Come From

This is a shout out to everyone at home who I love and miss so much! This is a song that, no matter where on earth I may be, always brings me back home. Enjoy, and feel free to sing along!

In the town where I was raised 
The clock ticks and the cattle graze 
Time passed with Amazing Grace 
Back where I come from 
Now you can lie on a riverbank 
Paint your name on a water tank 
Or miscount all the beers you drank 
Back where I come from 

Back where I come from 
Where I'll be when it's said and done 
I'm proud as anyone 
Back where I come from 

We learned in Sunday school 
Who made the sun shine through 
I know who made the moonshine, too 
Back where I come from 
Blue eyes on a Saturday night 
Tan legs in the broad day light 
TV's, they were black and white 
Back where I come from 

Back where I come from 
Where I'll be when it's said and done 
I'm proud as anyone 
Back where I come from 

Some say it's a backward place 
Narrow minds on a narrow way 
I make it a point to say 
That that's where I come from 

That's where I come from 
Where I'll be when it's said and done 
I'm proud as anyone 
That's where I come from 
Back where I come from 
I'm an old Tennessean *Iowan*
And I'm proud as anyone 
That's where I come from 
That's where I come from 
That's where I come from 

Until next time...


Sunday, March 27, 2011


So yesterday, just for fun, a few of us decided to climb Mount Snowdon, which is the highest mountain in Wales. It was quite an adventure and we had a lot of fun. It first involved us getting to the mountain. None of us had used the bus system in northern Wales, so that was an adventure in itself. Friday night we all got together to map out our mission. We decided we needed to get on the #85 to Llanberis and then take another small bus to the base of Snowdon. No problem, right? Well, the first bus was no problem to get on. We weren't 100% sure where to get on the bus. Bright and early yesterday  morning we walked down to the closest bus stop and looked over the sign. If we were reading the sign correctly there would be a #85 stopping at 8:53; it was currently 8:23. We had plenty of time and while we waited there should have been 8 other buses stopping. The funny part was 8 other buses went by but none of them actually stopped. By creeping on other locals we figured out that you had to actually signal the bus to stop otherwise it would just fly on by. Good thing there were other people at this stop that were riding other buses. So as we saw #85 coming along we flagged the driver down like we knew exactly what we were doing. We paid our fair and we were golden, or so we thought.

Once we arrived in the small town of Llanberis, we realized we had no idea where we were supposed to get off. Luckily it wasn't hard for us to figure that one out. We eventually came to a huge bus stop where there were tons of people gathered around that all looked like mountain hikers; we assumed they had the same idea as us; climb Snowdon. As soon as we got off #85 another bus pulled up and everyone crammed onto it; we assumed it would take us where we needed to go; and sure enough it did! One more mission accomplished. We soon arrived at a parking lot at the base of Snowdon, now where? We went into the small shop and we must have looked like we didn't have a clue what we were doing because a guide came up to us asking if we needed any help. We told him we wanted to take the Pyg path up to the summit if he could just point us in the right direction we would be very thankful. After a long conversation he had us talked into needing a map. So we went to the gift shop and bought the 4.95 map... that we didn't really need but got it just in case.

We knew where we were going and we were off. We really wouldn't have had to ask directions at all. All we would have had to do was follow the giant mob up the mountain. There were tons of people who obviously had the same idea as us. The day was so beautiful. It was a perfect day to make the climb. It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the top and the whole way all we had to do was stay on the path. It was a little bit boring especially considering there were so many people doing the same thing. Don't get me wrong it was a beautiful climb and we got a hell of a work out, its just in OP we don't normally stick to a path. So about 2 hours into it we decided (and when I say we I mean I decided) to get off the beaten path. The path took a big detour around the steep part of the mountain so we decided to climb straight up instead of going around. I don't know if it was the best decision but I felt accomplished after we got up it. It was like climbing on kitty litter which made it very challenging especially since it was like straight up. Oh well, we made it AND we were almost at the summit. It was about a 10 minute walk and we were there. There were so many people at the top, it was crazy.

After enjoying our lunch we headed back down. We didn't take the same path; we took one that would take us right back to Llanberis, no need to take another bus. The path we took was very boring; so to make it more interesting, about half way down we got off the path again. There was a peak off to side that had some huge boulders on it. So using some of our OP skills we did some bouldering. It was a lot of fun messing around. We even played lava; which made me feel like a kid again. If you have never played it is where we said we could only step on rocks because everything else was lava. If you stepped on the grass you were dead because you feel in the lava. We played that from the peak all the way back to the path. It was so much fun! Overall, the day was a huge accomplishment. We made it to the mountain on our own and we hiked over a mile high. Not to mention it was just a great day to enjoy the day outside AND I got sunburned! Imagine that, sunburn in Wales!

Until next time...


Friday, March 25, 2011

Outdoor Rock Climbing

So it really is official, I really don't like rock climbing. I don't know what it is but this is something I really don't enjoy. This week for OP we went rock climbing outside. It was such a beautiful day; I bet it was in the 60s. We were actually really warm climbing, which is very rare for Wales. The sun was shinning and it was so beautiful; I think I even got a tan ;o)

We had a different lady this week, not quite sure why. Anyways, she was not nearly as fun as Llion. She seemed like she didn't know what she was doing or where we were going. She just really threw the day off. When we got to the mountain we were going to climb at she didn't seem to know where exactly we were going. We kind of wandered around for awhile and then finally came to where we would be climbing. Then she had to secure the climbing lines at the top of the rock face. I think if Llion would have been the one doing the activity he would have had us help with this or at least let us watch. Instead we waited at the bottom for 2 HOURS while she secured them herself. So we sat around waiting, soaking up the sun; which was kind of fun.

Once she came back down we finally got to do some climbing, which I wasn't overly excited about. I was determined to do better than I did the time we climbed inside but I still wasn't really excited; especially after the wild goose chase we went through to get there. Riley was my climbing parter and she climbed first while I was the belayer. She did really well which kind of encouraged me because she struggled with rock climbing the week we were at the wall. If she could do it without any troubles then I might actually have a shot. Once it was my turn I tied in and set off. With much difficulty I actually made it to the top. I was really shaken up like the last time but I still managed to do it. I was really proud of myself and the descent down was a lot of fun. I would be ok if we could just do the going down thing. I really like being belayed down, I just don't really like climbing up. I guess I just don't have the strength to do it. We had 4 other lines to climb on. I tried 2 more and then I had enough. I didn't get to the top but at least I tried. And I did make it to the top on one of the lines that a lot of people struggled with. Made me feel pretty good too. Overall the day was a success but I will be ok if I don't do it again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This past weekend was spent in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. We left bright and early on Friday morning, keep in mind Thursday was St. Patty's day and we had tons of fun ;o) No, I actually behaved myself pretty well, but still had fun. Either way, everyone was pretty tired leaving at 8 in the morning. The bus ride wasn't too bad, I was pretty much fascinated by the cars on the road. We were driving on a road that was probably wide enough for 3 cars but it was just a 2 way road. So every once and awhile a car would pass us in the middle of the road. It really didn't matter if there were cars coming at us or not. I thought it was pretty crazy but it must be the norm because it happened quite often.

Our lunch break was in Hereford England which was a pretty cool town. We had a few hours to wander around and it was recommended that we go see the cathedral. We did just that and it was really interesting. In the cathedral was a map called the Mappa Mundi. This map dates back to 1290 and is a map of the world from a spiritual perspective. In the center of the map was Jerusalem which was considered the center of the world back then. The map also contained things like the Red Sea that was parted by Moses and then where the forest they wandered around for 40 years. We weren't allowed to take pictures but it was really cool. After that we wandered around in search of Chinese food (which we all seemed to be craving for some reason). We never did end up finding what we were looking for but we did find a cute sandwich shop.

After some shopping we were on the road again. Our next stop was the Tintern Abbey but it took us awhile to get there. We ended up going on a road that was under construction and we came to a bridge that was being worked on too. Our bus driver tried to get us over it by saying we were about 8 tons when we were actually 10 tons. Either way it didn't work, they made us turn around. This added about an hour to our drive but it was so worth it when we got there. This abbey was in ruins but it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The pictures do not do it justice but if you want to see more they are all in my facebook album.

After a quick drive we were finally in Cardiff. It was a looooong day, took us 9 hours to get there! The hostel we were staying in was so awesome, at least comparitvely. The only other hostel experience I have had was the one in London and it wasn't hard to get much better than that. In this hostel we were all staying with only people in our own group. So there were 6 of us girls in the room and we all knew each other; much better than 19 people in the same room and not knowing hardly any of them. It also had an awesome kitchen, dinning room and living room for our use. Very nice! A few of us decided we still wanted Chinese so we set off on another quest. We were told by told by the guy at the front desk where there would be a really nice place. I was a little leery but I went along with it anyways. It ended up being a really fancy and expensive place that was completely booked, so we headed to the next best place we could find. We ended up at a really nice Italian restaurant that was still pretty fancy but not as expensive. It was actually really good. After that we headed back to the hostel and watched a movie. Then we headed to bed and it was really cool. It was like we were all 12 again and having a sleep over. Everything was funny and it seemed like no one was ready to sleep. I really felt like a kid again for a little bit. We finally settled down because we knew we had to get up bright and early for a big day in the city the next day.

Saturday was a busy day with lots of things to see. I won't bore you with all the history but our first stop was at Cardiff Castle. This castle was very unique because up until 1947 it had been lived in. You will have to look at the pictures for sure; there are far too many good ones to pick from to put on here. Needless to say, every room was unique and amazing. The details in each room were crazy. You could take 500 pictures in each room and not catch everything. Every bit of each room had a story from some event in history behind it. I personally really liked the nursery. I would have loved to be a kid growing up in that castle, absolutely amazing.

The whole group with Tecwyn at
Millennium Stadium
After the castle we headed to Millennium Stadium, the home of the Wales Rugby team. I really haven't followed rugby before but I'm starting to get the hang of it. We ended up watching the game that night in the hostel against France (which we lost, sad day) and it is kind of like a free for all soccer and football combination. I think I will have to watch it a few more times before I really understand it. Anyways, the stadium was really cool and it was really the first pro stadium I have ever been to (unless you count Wrigley Field). When we walked from the locker room out on to the field they played the music really loud like it would be on game day and they even had people screaming and clapping; you couldn't help but feeling pumped up! I would love to go to a game there! The stadium isn't just used for rugby but also for soccer and concerts.

After that we headed to Cardiff bay which was very beautiful. We wandered around for awhile and looked in a few shops. There were tons of places to eat but we packed lunches to save money. Nothing like eating PB&J over and over! Hey it isn't too bad since I have skippy from home... thanks mom :) After Cardiff bay we headed to the Museum of Welsh Life. Museum is used very loosely here; this was actually a huge outdoor building walk around type thing. They had all of these historical buildings moved and rebuilt on this site from throughout different parts of the history of Wales. We did get to see another castle but it was very modern feeling. We also got to see lots of baby lambs. They were so cute and they never get old. That was the end of educational parts of the day. We spent the rest of the night at the hostel cheering on the Wales rugby team while enjoying some adult beverages. It was really a fun night even though Wales didn't pull through. I'm coming to the conclusion that I shouldn't cheer for them because the last time I did they also lost. I kind of get that feeling when I cheer for the cubs too (but I don't think that is entirely my fault ;o)).

The next day wasn't such an early morning. We got to sleep in but of course I was up earlier than I needed to be. I have this thing where if I know I can sleep in I will be wide awake by 6:30 with no chance of falling back asleep. Oh well, just gave me plenty of time to shower without having to wait in line and pack up all my stuff. I was impressed with my ability to get everything I had back into my back pack. I even had room to spare. After we checked out of the hostel we headed to the National Museum of Wales. Maybe I'm not a museum person, but I found this pretty boring. I can only look at so many portraits before I get bored. They also had an interactive rock exhibit, that was cool... haha ;o) The coolest part (and I was actually kid of excited) was the dinosaur exhibit. We got to see some pretty cool skeletons and replicas.

After the museum we set off on the long drive home. It was a five and a half hour bus ride but it seemed much longer. The weather was so nice when we left Cardiff but the closer we got to Bangor the uglier it got. We finally made it home and it was nice to get off the bus. It was a really fun weekend! Our next field trip is our trip to Ireland, which hopefully is just as much fun if not more!

Until next time...


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Row Row Row Your Boat!

So, since Thursday morning I have been going non-stop and it's not likely to slow down for awhile. I figured I better get caught up on the blog (and I really don't want to do my real journals so I will do this instead). As you may have seen (if you were stalking me on facebook) I managed to post pictures from this past weeks OP. We went canoeing and with that activity came outdoor abseiling (which we did the week before at the indoor rock wall) and we also did come outdoor fire building skills. It was such an awesome day! I keep saying this, but I think it was the best!

We started by walking to the Menai Straits to get the canoes. It is so nice that the center sits right on the water! After we go in the water we did some fun warm up activities by playing dodge ball. This was to work on our communication skills with our partners and to work on our maneuvering skills in the water. Riley was my partner and she started out as tail (or the driver) and I started out in the front (or the engine). We had a lot of fun messing around and soon we were all racing across the Straits. I would compare the Straits to the Mississippi but not quite as wide (and it is actually not a river but part of the sea). It wasn't long before we were at our destination so we docked and headed for a camp site. We set up a shelter because it was rainy, and boy was that interesting. We sure have a strange way of doing things! After a few failed attempts at setting up the shelter we finally got it. Then it was on to making fire! That was lots of fun! We finally got a fire going and had our lunch. Then we roasted some mollows, which were kind of gross. They just aren't the same here. We couldn't even get them to burn. At home you stick them in the flame and they instantly ignite. Here they just kind of caramelize. The nice thing was, you always got a perfectly golden mollow no matter how long you left it in the fire! Needless to say, a bunch of 20 somethings had a lot of fun!

Eventually we moved on to the next activity which was abseiling. We had done this the week before indoors. I had a lot of trouble with that activity, but this week was great! I'm pretty sure I had the most trouble with getting to the top the week before, not the actual going down. The best part about this week was the fact that we just walked to the top of the cliff and just did the abseiling off. It was up to us to remember what we were doing. Everyone did really well, including myself! I loved it this time! I even went twice! It was so much fun. After hooking up to the safety line and looking over the edge, it was scary but also exciting. I hooked myself up to the abseiling line with the loop break and as Llion said it "tossed myself over the edge". I guess I did everything right, because I didn't fall to my death! I couple of people even tried climbing back up, not me!

After we were done being monkeys, we headed back to the water. We paddled back up the Straits, against the current. Along the way, we did some balancing exercises. The goal was for you and your partner to stand up in the canoe one at a time and then both together. The real trick was that you were supposed to do this with your feet on the outside edges. This took A LOT of concentration and balance. When Riley and I did it at first she stood on the edges and I stood on my seat and not at the same time. I really didn't want to tip the boat and fall in because I had my camera on me. Eventually, I handed off my camera to Llion and gained a lot of confidence, or I guess I didn't care so much if I fell in, haha! So I made Riley do it again. I went first. I swear it took me 10 minutes to stand up, but I did it. I then stood there with all the balance I could find. For those of you who know me fairly well, know I'm not the most coordinated person, so this was pretty challenging. I stood as still as I could while Riley slowly stood up too. she eventually got there with only a little rocking of the boat. There were a few times I thought we were going in, but we survived. At the same time we both crashed into the boat. We both were loosing our balance so instead of falling into the water we fell into the boats. I have bruises on my kneecaps to help me remember how much fun this was. I was so proud of myself! It was very challenging and we did it!

The rest of the weekend was spent in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. So my next will be about that adventure. Stay tuned, I hope to have it done by tomorrow but right now I should probably do some of the stuff that is due tomorrow.

Until next time...


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fish and Chips

Just a quick update! So, I finished my Hollywood paper. I don't think it was very good, but I did the best I could do. I'm sure it will be obvious that I am not a film student so hopefully the teachers will take that into consideration while grading. I'm not too worried :o) I'm also almost all caught up with my journals... but they aren't due until the end of the semester. So all is good!

My mom would be so proud of me. Today, a few of us went to have fish and chips. These are very traditional here and most people have had them several times. I however, have been boycotting because I'm not a fan of fish. But I figured I would give in and try them. The chips aka fries were really good. The fish was ok... very crispy and really didn't taste like fish at all. So I guess that is a good thing. They also came with mushy peas, which are also very traditional here. Amazingly enough, I really liked those too. I can't wait to have mom and dad and the rest of the gang try them. I'm sure they will love them. And it was at the cutest little cafe run by a husband and a wife that were super friendly.

Until next time...


Monday, March 14, 2011

Harlech castle field trip

So, I'm trying really hard to not be stressed out, that is something I should only have to be at home. Study is abroad is supposed to be fun and care free, right? Well, I got most of my paper done over the weekend, but it still needs work. It is due Thursday, so I still have a couple of days to get it where I want it. I also have a journal for last Thursday's OP class, a lab report from Friday's field trip to Llanberis and now a journal from yesterday's field trip to Harlech, Portmeirion and Baddgelert. So, lots of stuff to keep me busy! So I will try to keep this one short just because there are lots of other things I should be doing too. I do these blogs for myself too so I don't want to fall too far behind. AND this weekend we are going to Cardiff for the weekend for Tecwyn's class, so the goal is to have everything done before that point!

So yesterday started with an hour and a half bus ride to Harlech. This was the craziest bus ride by far. All of the roads we were on you would swear were made to be one way streets but, oh no, they were not. We met tons of cars on the way and our bus driver was amazing. The day was beautiful so there were tons of people out and about. Every time we met a car we had to come to a complete stop and at times the car we met had to back up and let us through. One time we had to back up and pull into another drive way to let the cars get through. There were always rock walls on at least one side of the road if not both, so it made getting off to the side a little difficult. Oh well, eventually we made it! And oh was it worth it!

Harlech was the most beautiful castle we have been to so far. It sat high up on a hill like usual but you could see almost the whole west coast of Wales from the top. The Snowdonia mountains were off in the background in the other direction. It was just amazing! All my pictures are on facebook if you want to check them out. We explored the castle a bit and walked on the walls. I think it would be just amazing to live back in the times when these castles were actually lived in.

After the castle we headed to a small little village about 30 minutes away. This village was built as a tourist attraction and it was by far the strangest place we have gone so far. It was called Portmeirion, and it is a small Italian village nestled into the hillsides of Wales. It was kind of a strange place to put an Italian village but whatever. We were told that tons of celebs have stayed there. I actually don't think anyone really lived there but just visited. It has a bunch of little shops and cafes. We got coffee and ice cream and enjoyed the sceenery. It was very beautiful, especially looking out over the water.

Our last stop of the day was in Beddgelert, which is a typical stone village of Snowdonia. The story goes that there was dog that was looking after the son of a hunter. The father was out hunting and when he came home he found blood everywhere and only the dog. He did not see the son, so assuming the dog murdered the son, the father killed the dog. The son was later found alive and well, and there was also a dead wolf found. So the dog had actually killed off the wolf and saved the baby, the father had made a mistake and felt terrible about what he had done. So in honor of the loyal dog he buried it and named the town after it. We went to see the grave and the town. It was quite beautiful. The day over all was beautiful and I had a lot of fun. Picture don't do it justice but they are better than nothing. Enjoy!

Until next time...

~ Amy

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Indoor rock walls are not my thing...

So I figured I would do a quick blog before I get too far behind. I have this big paper for my Hollywood class that is due on Thursday and it has pretty much taken over my life. All I can think about is this paper. It wouldn't be that big of a deal but it is 40% of my grade and the other 60% comes from the next paper. I wish I didn't care about grade but I do. They are so important in this stage of the game because of where I want to go with my life. If I wasn't going to try to get into a really competitive PA program then they wouldn't be that big of a deal. But I have to keep my grades up so I can be competitive. So... as much fun as I've been having, I still need to get my act together and get stuff done. I also have a lab report to do, an OP journal and after tomorrow I will have another journal for Tecwyn's class. So, it is all piling up!

Anyways, for this past Thursday's OP class we went indoor rock climbing. The weather has been crappy for the past few days, so being inside seemed like the best activity for us that day. I kind of started the day with a bad attitude to being with because I was frustrated with the paper. We went to the center and we practiced tying knots and then headed to the rock wall place. It started out really fun. We did a lot of traversing across the walls just barley off the ground. Then we did some bouldering, which is climbing without the aide of ropes. There is also a huge cushy pad below you, you have a spotter and you really don't climb that high. That was fun too, but consumed a lot of energy and upper body strength. We did some fun activities where we were blind folded and our partner had to guide us around.

After lunch, we geared up to climb with ropes and belayers. We started out on some fairly simple walls and my partner was Teresa and Llion. Llion was kind of looking over the other two groups too so Teresa and I were pretty much on our own. She climbed up first while I belayed her. I've done plenty of belaying in the past with chair evacuations for ski patrol, so that was nothing new. She went up the wall twice and I got her down safely. Then it was my time to climb, and I don't know why I was so scared but I was! We have done way scarier things in past events but something about the rock wall put me on edge. I made it to the top with no problems but I was immediately ready to have my feet back on the ground. I climbed the same route a second time and it was much better. I made it all the way to the top and felt a little more comfortable but still a little unnerved. We eventually moved on to a different rock wall that was more like real rocks. They were much harder and the foot and hand holds were much further apart. I just didn't have the upper body strength. I was soon too tired to climb. My arms felt like jelly and I never made it higher than a few feet off the ground. I gave up and just stuck to belaying. Which was fine, I really like belaying. Teresa and everyone else was doing really well but since Teresa and I were working in a pair and everyone else was working in groups of 3, Teresa soon got tired too. So we took a break and then we eventually moved on to something new. We did what was called absailing (in the picture). We climbed all the way to the top of the wall and there was a platform. We then hooked ourselves on to the white rope and lowered ourselves down instead of being belayed down. Nothing too difficult right? I dunno what happened but as I was climbing up I got really really scared and I just kind of freaked out. I made it to the top but with a lot of difficulty. I think I was just exhausted and I didn't think I was going to make it. I know I would have been caught if I fell, but Melissa was belaying me for the first time and I think in the back of my mind I was a little nervous I would have fallen. So by the time I managed to get myself over the top I was so upset I had to sit there for awhile. I eventually got it together and got myself down. It wasn't the getting myself down that was the problem. That didn't scare me at all, it as just at the top I ran out of strength to pull myself up that last little bit. But I made it and I'm glad I got myself down.

Now, I'm off to the library to knock this paper out (hopefully). I don't want to stress about it anymore. Tomorrow we have another field trip to a castle and some other cool places. So stay posted!

Until next time...


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh! I do go to school here too!

So, everyone keeps giving me a hard time about all the fun I have been having here. Well, I guess I kind of deserve it. I have been having the time of my life and living it up for sure! I love all the traveling and the freedom. If I were at home right now I would be stressed about how I was going to get 3 lab reports done and study for the 2 tests I have next week. That is not the case here at all. For the most part I have had the freedom to go out every night if I really wanted to. This is in contrast with home, where I would maybe go out a handful of times throughout one semester. It is hard to choose which lifestyle I like better. You may think I'm crazy but I kind of miss the structure of St. Ambrose. I miss being challenged and having to study all the time. I also really miss having a job. I had 3 back home, so not having on here, plus having all of this free time is quite a transition. I even had time to color my hair again! It is even more pink than the last time and the color is lasting pretty well! At least it lasted longer than 3 washes!

Lately I have been wasting most of my time on watching movies. I would say in the last 2 weeks I have watched well of 20 movies. Oh the power of the internet! Really, though I am being productive in watching all of these movies. One of the classes I am taking here is a Hollywood films class. We are getting close to the first essay that we have to write (I'm actually blogging to avoid starting the paper haha!) and I am developing my filmography by watching all of these movies. This paper is going to be pretty hard for me to write because as you all know film is definitely not where my main focus of study is. I am a hard core science paper and I can write a lab report of a proposal like it is my job. When it comes to writing other academic papers not focused on science I'm kind of in the dark. So this could be a challenge. I'm starting it somewhat early. I have done some research already and I even have the cover page done! AND, I've been watching a ton of relevant movies. So, we will see where this paper ends up.

I also did an online test for ecology this past week. Which if I have to pick a least favorite section of biology it would be ecology for sure (Sorry Amy if you are reading this, I'm sure it would be much more enjoyable if I took it with you). I like all of the human stuff when it comes to science, not so much plants and animals, that is pretty much what ecology is. This class also deals with evolution with is also one of my least favorites. But I got a 25/30 which is pretty good. Could have been better but I swear some of the questions were impossible ;o)

Tomorrow is OP. Tuesday's group did gorge scrambling, so we will see if we do the same activity. Friday, I have a field trip for ecology. We are collecting samples from a forest somewhere, so that should be interesting (not!). Then Sunday we have another field trip for Tecwyn's class so there will be more blogs to come soon! Sorry I have been lacking in the blogs, but like I said all I have been doing lately is watching movies :) I guess I could give you a movie list... haha!

Until next time...


Friday, March 4, 2011

Mountain Walk Rock Scrambliing

So every time we have outdoor pursuits I think I like that days activity the best. When finishing the activity of the day, I always think to myself, "There is no way this activity can be topped". And then the next week, it is even more amazing then the last So far, every activity has been my favorite! This "class" is so much fun, although I'm not quite sure how it can be called a class. Just like out instructor, Llion, has a hard time calling it "work".

This week, we knew what we would be doing because two students had to switch days. So, to make sure there wouldn't be any repeats, Tuesday and Thursday groups did the same activity. I saw some pictures posted on facebook from Tuesdays group and knew we would be "mountain climbing". Now, I put it in quotes because it isn't your typical mountain climbing around here. There is no need for ropes because there is nothing that intense. My pictures may make it look pretty intense but it could all be completely be done just using your arms and legs.

We were the leaders of the day. We took turns finding th best path and Llion just made sure we didn't lead each other to our deaths. The first part of the day was us going through plant life and a few rocks. As we progressed up the mountain it got more rocky and less plant life. We even saw a baby mountain goat. It was so cute! We would stop every 10 minutes or so to catch our breath, but we kept climbing higher and higher. Our goal was to get to the summit by lunch time. As we got higher the rock formations got more difficult and it took a lot of concentration and patients to make sure we navigated successfully. We just took our time and helped each other along. We spotted and fielded the person in front of us to make sure they didn't fall and to make sure it was safe for us to move on. Llion guided us through some of the more difficult spots. I found the harder the challenge, the more fun I was having! The only bad part about the day was the fact that my hands were super sore, but it was better not to wear gloves because it gave you a better grip.

We finally reached the summit and oh was it worth it! It was the most beautiful site I have seen since I have been in Wales. To see the mountain ranges in every direction was so cool. It was such a beautiful day, it was almost unnoticeable how cold it was. There was even some snow at the top, not a lot but enough to put a smile on my face! There were these 2 rock formations at the top called Adam and Eve. There was a gap in between them just over a leg stride apart. The challenge was to jump from one to the other. Now, we did something similar to this when we were on the high ropes course the first week, but this was a whole new level. In the ropes course you were strapped to a cable. At the summit it was just you and a 2000 foot free fall with lots of jagged rocks to break your fall. I told myself if I didn't do the challenge I would regret it as soon as we walked away. So I scrambled to the top of Adam, which was a task in itself. I gained my balance and stood at the edge. It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced. Balancing on top of the world with nothing to hold on to! It took a minute but I worked up the courage and made myself jump. I get nervous just thinking about it again, thats how scary it was. We had spotters on both sides of the rocks and in between just in case you decided to fall. One of the hardest parts was getting down because it was so high up.

The way down was just exhausting but less of a challenge. We took a different, less difficult path down. We stayed in the sun to help keep us warm. We even got to see the rescue chopper flying throughout the mountains making the rounds. Llion informed us that there was a good chance Prince William was the one driving because that is what he is training to do. Very cool! Also, throughout the day there were these bomber plans going really fast through the valley. Most of the time they were lower than we were and it was so cool. They were so loud and sometimes they were so close it scared the crap out of you!

Overall, most successful day of OP! I had a great time and I can't wait to do some more mountain climbing in the future!

Until next time...


the whole group at the summit

Going from Adam to Eve

Melissa on a difficult climb

Rescue chopper maybe driving by Prince William