More from Thailand

February 20, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Another morning off, another hour of internet, and a few more pictures are up in the gallery.

Walking home in the evening

Things are falling into a bit of a rhythm here, and it’s a nice slow one. It’s a wonderful feeling to not have anywhere that we have to be, or anything that we have to do, right now. Just time to relax, enjoy the sea, the sun, and the rocks, and have a great time.

Climbing Thailand

Mark and I have decided that Railay peninsula, despite being filled with resorts and European tourists, is still one of the most “real” places we have visited. In other words, it’s hot, dirty, sweaty, and wonderful. The monkey’s are real and wild, the reefs are filled with fish, and the jungles sing with cicada’s and bats at night.



Mark gets a kick out of the fact that there’s no signs warning tourists of the danger of steep cliffs here. There’s no yellow paint on the mud-slick trail to the hidden lagoon among the cliffs. No ropes or trainers keeping us from getting bitten by monkey’s. And no life preservers on the boats taking us out to snorkel. In fact, when signing up for ocean activities, nobody makes you sign a waiver, vouch for your swimming abilities, or tells you if you might get eaten by sharks.

Mark leading a fun 6b on the quieter end of 1,2,3

You have to look out for yourself here, and this ain’t Disney World! But, I think it’s even more fun that way.

Reporting from Thailand!

February 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Well, it’s been an incredible week so far. I’m not really sure where to begin.

I’ve started putting a few pictures up in the gallery, but there are hundreds more to come!

Mark on the boat ride to Railay

Currently, I’m sitting in the lobby of a resort on the west coast of Railay Peninsula, on the south east coast of Thailand, using the only free wifi for 100 miles, and sweating like mad. We’re taking the day off of adventures today, because Mark and I both feel like we’ve been through a mud, sand, sun and salt-water filled blender in the last few days.

First view of the Tonsai Cliffs

We’ve been on the peninsula for 3 days, and so far we’ve hiked through thick jungles, seen about a hundred monkey’s, climbed two beautiful sport climbs, met up with my old college buddy Weeks, gone swimming in clear, warm water, and spent hours deep water solo’ing on the cliffs dotting the ocean.

Swimming in the Adamantian Sea

Longtail boats at Phra Nang Beach

We are sunburnt, raw, and exhausted today, but still have plenty of time left to explore this amazing country. Mark and I are in love with Thailand right now. The people are amazing, the food is fantastic, the landscape is surreal and beautiful, and the climbing is top-notch.

Afternoon sailing and swimming

What more could you possibly want?

Railay West at sunset

A few days in La Jolla

January 14, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Each winter for the last few years, my group at school has had a meeting at a joint institution in our big project. We’ve had meetings in Kauai, Los Angeles, Manhattan and this year, La Jolla, California.

Sunrise and palm trees

It was a really great meeting, and my first chance to explore Scripps and the La Jolla area. It’s very nice. The kind of place it would be easy to get used to.

View from the hallways of our hotel

We spent most days in meetings and presentations, but there was a little bit of time to enjoy views of the beach and a little bit of splashing in the water.

Our meeting venue at Scripps

Water ruffles

Handstands on the beach

Thank God for Santa Fe

November 21, 2009 at 10:30 am

By the end of November, Mark and I were feeling pretty run down. Winter was rolling in fast and we wanted a climbing trip to the desert. Mark managed to wrangle the whole week of Thanksgiving as vacation, so we left Friday night (the weekend before) and drove straight through to visit Dylan and Ann in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Dylan and Ann walk the market

Dylan and Ann have been living in the desert hippy mecca for about a year and a half, and they have built a fantastic life for themselves. They have explored the mountains and cliffs, paths and arroyos all over town. Dylan is vegan and becoming an incredible cook, so their kitchen seems to be always full of interesting, organic, fresh, gourmet food. Ann, who lived in Santa Fe long before we ever met, returns faithfully each week to an amazing Japanese-style spa and bathhouse for cleansing and meditation.

It’s a simple, quiet, healthy lifestyle, and it felt so very good to be a part of it for one weekend last month. I have found myself constantly craving the peacefulness that I felt that weekend ever since I left.

Chili Pepper Christmas Wreaths

Saturday morning we headed to the Santa Fe farmer’s market for snacks, meal fixings, organic car deodorizers, and desert culture tourism. I’m a huge fan of farmer’s markets, and I got a kick out of the different items on sale at this one. Bound sage bundles were very popular – when burnt, they have healing effects. Dried chili pepper wreathes seemed to cover every other table – they are the official symbol of Santa Fe. Then there were mushroom CSA shares, yak meat from Taos, locally made breads, vegan breakfast burritos, spicy hot jellies and chutneys, and piles of fresh produce, even at the end of November.

Bound Sage

Our wandering around the Santa Fe market was the start of the best desert day I have ever had. We went on to climb sunny basalt cracks overlooking the Rio Grand. Then finished it with Ann and I alternating hot sauna and cold mineral baths at the most amazing, quiet, moon-filled Japanese bath house. It was incredible. I miss it all: our friends, the desert nights, the meditative quiet, and the great food! I miss it so much, it actually hurts to write about it.

North Carolina Beach Vacation, Part 2

May 13, 2009 at 8:12 pm

The big adventure of our trip to North Carolina came on Wednesday, when we all booked spots on a 50ft catamaran sail-cruise to Cape Lookout. The trip took about 6 hours, included lunch, drinks and snacks, involved spotting horses and dolphins from the sailboat as well as mooring at the lighthouse and the cape to give us time to explore and look for shells. All for the bargain price of $60 a person. Really. Great. Deal. I totally recommend Lookout Cruises if you’re in the area.

Laying on the nets, looking up

And, I may have decided that my next career will involve chartered sailing while I was on this boat. Those guys did a great job, and looked like they really loved their jobs. There’s pictures from the day up in the gallery.

Cape Lookout Sail Map (Google Earth)

The cruise was great. We had a strong wind out of the east, so we “motor-sailed” out to the lighthouse (the direct line on the map above), which took about an hour and a half. We had lunch at the dock and then took an hour to explore the museum, lighthouse, and pristine seashore of the cape. We then loaded back into the boat, and sailed back a little ways, where the crew ran the big boat up on the beach, and we all hopped out to find some of the biggest, prettiest shells I’ve ever seen. All in an area with no roads, no crowds, in fact, nobody but us for the whole day.

A North Carolina Landscape

Mark and I both have a good bit of experience with sailing, and have often talked about buying a little boat and taking sailing vacations. On this trip, I thought it was great to see so much of the love of sailing and passion for the outdoors in the people living along the coast. They may not be climbing, but these people have just as much dedication and obsession with their chosen sport and lifestyle as any dirtbag rock climber that I’ve met.

Looking across the bow on a cloudy evening

I’ve often heard from the climbers and adventurers in my life that there are two types of people in this world. Some people are happy just to see the mountains, and enjoy the views from below. Others are driven to climb and explore each peak and lofty perch. I think the same easily applies to the ocean. Some people are perfectly content to sit on the beach and watch the waves crash, the storms’ fury, and the dolphins playing, from a distance. Others have to head out into the blue expanse, and experience it all first hand.

North Carolina Beach Vacation, Part 1

May 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm

When I was a little girl, my favorite place on the planet was the Outer Banks, in North Carolina. My family traveled to the East Coast nearly every year from the time I was about 10 years old until after I left for college. My most recent trip was for our wedding, six years ago, in Duck, North Carolina. Last week, Mark’s family met in Atlantic Beach, in the southern part of the North Carolina coast.

Check out the gallery for pretty photos.

North Carolina beach view

When I was younger, the North Carolina Coast inspired so many dreams and fantasies. I would try to surf in the chaotic waves on the coast. In my mind, I was in Hawaii, ripping it up with the best of them.

I would sail small boats around the sound, the area between the barrier islands and the mainland, flying across the water in North Carolina wind gales. In my mind, I was captain of one of the hundreds of wrecks that litter the shallows off the myriad capes and barrier shoals.

I would walk along the beach in the evening, watching dolphins in the distance and pelicans skimming over the waves. In my mind, I was walking arm-in-arm with the love of my life, content to be together in a beautiful, perfect, magical place.


In some ways, the beach wedding felt like a “goodbye” to my childhood and childish things. It was the last time I visited the North Carolina coast, and I was working, making my own money, and committing myself to the man I love. The world was open to me; I could travel and sail and climb and be everything I had ever dreamed of.

What I did on my vacation

And in the last few years, we have made good on those big ideas. As we drove over the causeway for our return trip this week, I felt instantly nostalgic and sad. The beach seemed so much smaller, and less exotic than it had been when I was a kid. How exciting are wild horses on barrier islands when you’ve chased mountain goats up 14,000ft peaks? How amazing is an east-coast beach when you’ve been to Tel Aviv? How can sailboats on the sound compare to the gilt long-boats near Venice?

Atlantic Beach Sunset

I felt that this vacation would never be as great as the ones I remembered, but now I think that may be an unfair comparison. The world is different now, especially when viewed through my eyes. But that, actually, doesn’t make a special place like North Carolina any less special. The world is full of amazing sights and incredible adventures, and now that I’ve experienced a few of them, I think the coast of North Carolina still ranks among the best.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

January 25, 2009 at 3:26 pm

On Friday, our lectures and meetings finished up at around lunchtime. I was scheduled to leave Tel Aviv on Saturday morning at 5:30a, so Friday afternoon was my last chance to explore Jerusalem. Our big group of students broke up into smaller groups depending on who wanted to see what, and Mona, Camille and I headed back to the Old City to see the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

This is, in my humble opinion, the best group of photos from the trip. So take a minute to check them out in the gallery.

The unassuming entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Church has a rather unassuming facade. It sits on the northern edge of the Christian quarter in the Old City, and has been a church resting on this spot since 326 AD. Today, the Church is huge, and encompasses both the Holy Sepulcher (the location of Christ’s tomb) and the hill of Calvary, where Jesus was crucified and killed.

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre - built on the tomb of Christ

The Sepulcher sits inside a small building, called the Edicule, which is inside the largest dome of the Church, called the Rotunda of the Anastasis. When we were there on Friday afternoon, the Church was quiet. There were a few people milling around, praying, lighting candles, and taking pictures. It was a beautiful spot, and the whole room felt cool, calm, and peaceful.

The Greek Orthodox (left) and Roman Catholic (right) alters on Calvary

We spent a little more than an hour exploring the Church. The layout of the building is confusing, and I was wishing I had a guidebook to the church itself. Each room had staircases or hallways leading off into other chambers and chapels. The building was organic, fractal, and passageways twisted through it like the arteries of a larger being.

Looking up the stairs from the deep underground chappel

It was amazing to walk these ancient hallways, to visit these Holy sites, and to pray at such beautiful alters. I was quickly aware of the austerity of my protestant religion. Other people in the rooms were crossing themselves repeatedly, sprinkling holy water on themselves, chanting their Hail Mary’s, and generally practicing rituals that have been developed over the two thousand year lifetime of the Catholic Church. As a protestant, I don’t practice any of these rituals. The protestant churches left the pomp and ritual of the Catholic Church behind, and developed a very democratic Church.

Kneeling at the alter of Calvary, I began to really appreciate the way our churches are structured. Our church doesn’t build fantastic alters, or commission much awe-inspiring art work. In our church, Christ resides in the community of people who gather to worship, not in any jewel-encrusted adornments of the clergy. I felt both proud and sad about the puritan ancestry of my church. The perspective is good, and I do agree with the directness and the view of the importance of individual relationships with God. But there is something completely beautiful about building a church this impressive, and I felt confused about what to do with my hands as I walked from room to room. No crossing for Katy. I simply folded my hands demurely in my lap and prayed, and stared, and wondered.

People praying, lighting candles, and taking pictures of the Sepulchre

Kate and Rachel in Israel

January 22, 2009 at 6:10 pm

As usual, I took my nice big camera with me on the trip, and I took a ton of pictures of beautiful churches and picturesque views. Rachel, on the other hand, did the smarter thing and brought a small camera to take lots of fun pictures of everybody on the trip. Her pictures are up on her flickr site.

On the walls of Jerusalem:

So, for those of you who always complain that there’s not enough pictures of me on the site (hi Mom!) here’s a few that Rachel took.

In the Frankfurt airport:

Taking lots of pictures:

Relaxing in the sun on campus: