The Endurance

A few years ago I took a survival course in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Among other things, I learned to build a debris shelter and start a fire with string, wood, and shavings.

I think it’s important to know some basic survival skills.

Granted, I’m not hiking anywhere besides well-traveled Bay Area hiking trails, but still. . .

I can hopefully help myself live long enough to be rescued, if I ever got lost in the woods.

Not surprisingly, I have a deep affection for survival stories.

My favorite survival story and the one I shared with my kids is the survival story of Ernest Shakleton and The Endurance.

Ernest Shakleton, an Antarctic explorer, got trapped in the ice during his expedition to cross Antarctica and somehow HE AND HIS WHOLE CREW managed to survive and be rescued two years after they set sail, thanks to his heroic efforts which included navigating the 720 nautical-mile open-boat journey to South Georgia Island where there was a whaling station.

[Note:  Shakleton actually landed on the WRONG side of the island and had to traverse the island to get rescued.]

It’s an AMAZING story of leadership.

In addition to having a small obsession with the story of The Endurance, I also have a thing for Mt. Everest.

How I’d love to hike to base camp in the Himalayas!

And that’s a far as I’d go.

At 26,000 feet, the human body starts to slowly die and the altitudes above 26,000 feet are known as “The Death Zone.”

The latest book I’m reading is called “The Greatest Survival Stories Ever Told:  Seventeen Incredible Tales.”

More stories of adversity, survival and human triumph, both fiction and non-fiction?!

Well color me happy!


Burning Man 2017: Getting There

The first thing you need to know about my burn is that it almost didn’t happen.

Tejas’ Motorbeast broke down in Auburn.

Then again just outside of Gerlach.

I got the last seat (right next to the toilet) on a Burner Express bus heading to the playa with an overnight bag, a liter of water, and simply the HOPE that the Motorbeast would make it.

I arrived on the playa to blazing 100+ degree heat in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

No Motorbeast in sight.

It was too hot to do anything so I hunkered down in the shade with my awesome camp mates and begged water off of people.

I also changed into my favorite bodysuit.

It was the only other piece of clothing in my overnight bag and was much cooler than what I was wearing.

I totally rocked the scrunch butt even though it gave me a permanent wedgie.

The Motorbeast arrived with much fanfare at 6:00 pm.

Tejas spent almost 6 hours in the Gate line.

This burn is a true testament to the tenacity of that man, and I am forever grateful he took on the responsibility of carting our gear and our home out to the playa.

I heart that man.

He pushed for repairs and got the Motorbeast back on the road and to the playa.

We are HOME!



Finally, an easy adventure!

terrariumSomething new for me to do!

Remember Paint Nite?

You show up at a restaurant, eat and drink while following an artist instructing you on how to paint the featured painting for the night.

Well, now there’s Plant Nite!

You show up at a restaurant, eat and drink while following a gardener instructing you on how to create a succulent terrarium.

I’m totally excited!

The Plant Nite I signed up for is taking place in Santana Row so it’ll be fun to stroll around before and/or after the class and take in the shops and restaurants of Santana Row.

Although quite frankly I’m more interested in LED wired purple faux fur cropped jackets than I am in haute couture.

Burning Man, how you have changed me!

I wear $2 heart sunnies from Forever 21 now instead of $400 Chanel sunglasses.

In any case, I’m super duper happy because I found a coupon code that took $15 off the cost of Plant Nite (PLANTHERE35) in case any of you want to use it at

Finally, an adventure that doesn’t requite me to put on a wetsuit, take an anti anxiety pill, or wear closed toed shoes.

I can live with this!

Boudoir Flashback

Now might be as good a time as any to mention that every year, I have a little adventure I go on.

This year it’s Burning Man.

Last year, it was Burning Man.

But the year before that, I took Boudoir photos with a professional photographer.

I bought a Groupon deal from Celebrate Your Sexy for $59.

I then proceeded to spend upwards of $1,000 on lingerie, makeup artistry, hairstyling, and more.

The reason I did it was because it scared me… the thought of posing semi naked in front of a stranger with a camera.

I thought to myself, “There’s no way I can do this.”

Then I told myself, “Yes, you can!”

And so I did it.

You can read more about my Boudoir Adventure here.

There’s even a lovely little clip of me freaking out in the hotel bar while I wait for my appointment to begin.

In the end, I was SUPER glad that I forced myself to persevere and overcome my fears because I LOVE my boudoir photos.

My favorite, incidentally, is this one…


Adventure Classes

michelleSo I stumbled across Verlocal as I was browsing Facebook.

It’s like the smaller, younger, more indie sibling of Groupon and Living Social.

It lists lots of stuff to do in the SF Bay Area – such as arts & crafts, food & drink, outdoor activities, sports & fitness, play, and music.

So far, I’ve identified 10 classes I want to take:

  1. Military Design Class – $27 – Create combat paper out of old military uniforms plus learn the wet process of pulp printing.
  2. Beeswax Candle Making Class – $40 – Make custom candles out of all-natural beeswax.
  3. Sacred Hearts & Skulls in the Mexican Paper Mache Tradition Class – $30 – Create and hand paint a Sacred Heart or Mask in the rich cultural tradition of Mexico.
  4. Book Binding – $45 – Learn how to make a sturdy one-of-a-kind book.
  5. Jam & Jelly Making Class – $65 – Learn to make delicious jams and jellies from scratch.
  6. Beginner Beekeeping Class – $55 – Learn all about bees, beekeeping, and honey. Yum!
  7. All Natural Beauty Class – $45 – Learn to make bath bombs, foot scrub, foot salve, and face mask from all natural ingredients.
  8. Forge Welded Hammers of the Viking Age Class – $375 – Forge-weld hammers from high-carbon steel and mild steel in the traditional technique that was used from before the Viking Era.
  9. Become a Japanese Chef – $80 – Make delicious sushi just like a Japanese chef!
  10. Basic Air Combat Maneuvers Phase 1 – $1395 – Experience the thrill and excitement of flying a light attack fighter in air combat. Woot!

There’s sure a lot of stuff for me to do.

If 2014 was the year of the Boudoir Photos and 2015 was the year of Burning Man, then perhaps 2016 will be the year of the Adventure Classes.

We shall see.

We shall see.