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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Constipated Cow

Y'all, a miracle has occurred. I have tales (good 'uns) to tell. Well, good to me anyway. Happy days!

So sometime in June, I think it was, I climbed Snowdon for the first time. That's right, ladies and gents, I can officially claim to be a student of Bangor University! You're not a real student til you've climbed Snowdon. 

All students climb Snowdon, but only the best have an epic mountain pose.


Snowdon was so cool, y'all! I've not done a lot of mountain climbing/walking. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure Timpanogas near Lehi, UT is the extent of my mountain career (which is pretty cool; go to Timpanogas if you get the chance). Living in Texas, your mountain experience is pretty limited... although I've kind of always wanted to be one of those mountain dwellers.

This was me in my past life.


 I love nature. Right, enough of these boring Cook thoughts, time for more Snowdon words!


WELCOME TO HELL.
(Just kidding. IT'S AMAZING!)

We went up Miner's Path, as shown above, and then came back down via Llanberis path. Miner's is an intermediate path that starts relatively flat. It's the second half of the climb that gets pretty intense. It's absolutely gorgeous and worth every second of heart rate elevation! Sorry, I had to let my sport science poke out. I think it's about 3 miles long... Llanberis is a slight incline (errr... decline for us..) the whole way, but it's 6 miles long. It takes you right into Llanberis, which is a pretty awesome town in Wales. They've got loads of outdoor activities to do and tons of outdoor shops. I bought my first map!

You can call me Dora.

So the climb up Miner's was incredible. Plus we were lucky enough to have clear weather and plenty of shine! It didn't stop the top from being absolutely freezing though. Anyway, here are some shots on the way up.


Amy and I giving the thumbs up that, yes, there's still oxygen present.

LAKE!

This is the plaque for the ancient church pictured below. 

I should have scaled the walls.


Amy and Jamie lookin' fly.

Aaaand another view.

I'm just including this one because, despite my crappy abilities as a photographer, I think I did a pretty nice job with this one!

This post is up near the top. People wedge a penny in for good luck, I think? I did it just because I can. Awwww yeaaah!





Believe it or not, there is a way to cheat the mountain.
Take the train.

There's a dial at the very peak of Snowdon. It points to different places from that spot.

Another view from the top! The sun was trying to break through the clouds that had moved in.


This is the view as we descended down the Llanberis path.

THE LLANBERIS PATH!

I just loved the color of the buildings in Llanberis. It made me think of the beach homes in Galveston.

Right. Those are some pictures from Snowdon. Not gonna lie, I'm completely out of it today, so my ability to write this post is.... nonexistent.

So this summer I'm living with my friend, Kim, and her family in Star out on the island of Anglesey because my new home is unavailable to me until September. I'm also working a job I hate, but that's beside the point. I'm surviving. Right! So what does living on Anglesey mean? It means every night as I fall asleep, I hear 

This guy.

To be fair, I also hear a noise that I can only describe as a constipated cow. The thought also crossed my mind that it could be a cow who has just been slaughtered for my dinner.

I thought I would hate living on Anglesey to be perfectly honest. It's 5.5 miles outside of Bangor, not a big deal, but still... Star is the middle of nowhere. I grew up in Benbrook, TX, a suburb of Fort Worth. It was pretty small town, but I had a bit city within a few minutes drive. Star is smaller than Benbrook, and Bangor isn't exactly a massive city. I absolutely love living on Anglesey, though. My boss has lent me a bicycle so I don't die on my way to work in the morning (I refuse to take the bus when my legs work perfectly fine, but there's no sidewalk for part of the 3.5 mile journey). Oh snap! That reminds me of another story to tell! You're in for a treat. It's coming briefly.
Anyway, there's so much cycling to be done on Anglesey! I've not done a whole lot of exploring yet, but I've done enough to know I'm going to love my time on Anglesey. My ultimate goal is to cycle to Holyhead, about 21 miles. I know I can do it because I've cycled that distance before. I've just not been cycling in over a year, so I'm building the strength up first. Gonna be good, though! So far I've cycled around Llanddaniel and discovered Bryn Celli Ddu. 

A.K.A. BURIAL CHAMBER!

I was just cycling around, minding my own business, and I saw a sign that said 'Burial Chamber' and pointed down a pedestrian path. I broke the law, cycled down the pedestrian path, and found my way to...

A bridge...

And then sheep.

And more sheep.

But never fear, there was a burial chamber at the end of the path. A few bugs committed suicide on my face before arriving, but I got there.


Inside the chamber.

It was pretty cool. A nice find methinks. I did have the thought to camp out there, not gonna lie.

So that was that cycle fun. I also have another adventure of cycling to tell. This is the one I mentioned previously.
I'd bought this old bicycle off ebay thinking if I gave it enough love, attention, and frustration, I could get it good as new. 

GIVE ME YOUR LOVE.

This is Xavy, my crappy bicycle. I've actually saved that photo on my computer as 'crappy bicycle'. I fixed the tires, greased it up, did everything in my power to make it awesome. Two problems: 1) The bicycle seat has been tightened so tight I can neither tighten it nor loosen it yet it still slowly slides down; 2) This bicycle is from the 1980s and has downtube gear shifters. The seat problem was surmountable until I couldn't loosen the bolt... now it's kind of stuck. I've asked other people to give it a go as well, and they couldn't either. The gear problem? I felt like I was going to die. I do not have the balance for this.

So for the test run after fixing this bicycle (before I knew about the problems) I decided to ride to Beaumaris from Bangor. I kid you not, this was the scariest ride of my life. I've ridden my bicycle through the thickest of traffic in America, weaving in and out, around cars. I've cycled in the dead of night and the brightest of days. I've crashed my bike so many times I can't remember. There are two times I could have died (not even exaggerating). This, however, was the scariest ride of my life. In the UK the roads are incredibly narrow compared to the US, you ride on the left side of the road, I couldn't shift gears to adjust for hills, there were no sidewalks for most of the ride (so I couldn't even opt for that), the road was windy, and British drivers terrify me. I kid you not, the whole time I prayed, 'Please don't let me die, please don't let me die, please don't let me die...' while sloooooooowly sinking on my bicycle seat. My parents laughed cruelly when I told them of this part.

My mom laughs like this.
'YOUR SINKING MISERY!'

Right, so the ride was terrifying. Beaumaris was beautiful though! Hence the 'beau'?

Beaumaris coast!

Coastal path

I just love this photo... even though it's lopsided...

I've only just realized that I only took pictures of the water/beach rather than the town... ha. Y'all should know by now that I am not a good picture taker. I'm so bad I can't even substitute 'picture taker' for the more appropriate term 'photographer'. BAM!

Beaumaris was cool. I survived the roundtrip, had a sore butt thanks to that 1980s seat, and enjoyed wandering around Beaumaris. There's a castle there as well, but I didn't have money on me (I'm not the wisest when I go places... a story on that for you momentarily) so I couldn't go in. It's only a fiver to get in, I think, so it'd be worth it.

Anyway, oh, yeah, I actually crashed my bicycle on the way back from Beaumaris. I was cycling along a road that had a sidewalk... and I decided to try to hop up onto the sidewalk because the curb was practically a driveway... but it wasn't. Wiped out *on the sidewalk*. I was in a pretty foul mood with this stupid bicycle at this point (the seat was all the way down and being stuck on one gear was not fun), so I just walked the last mile, silently cursing Xavy all the way. Luckily no road rash for me this time!

Right, that's my cycling so far. Ok, ready for a funny non-Wales related story? You know how I don't take things with me when I go places? Well, I never usually take my phone with me to the gym. One day, a couple of weeks ago before I moved out of my house in Bangor, I'd gone to the gym. I consciously left my phone at home. At this point I was the only one living in the house. With no more threats to the sanctity of my bedroom from Jess (we prank each other), I leave everything unlocked and open in the house. Because of this I didn't grab my keys to lock my door, so I didn't have my keys when I left the house. I got to the gym in a state of sweet bliss. It was once I was leaving that I realized 'crap, I don't have my keys'.

He's not the idiot abroad.
I am.


I can pick locks and have successfully done our front door a few times. Unfortunately for me, I don't usually carry my lock picking set with me (I do now). I went to Morrisons to buy some paper clips to make a makeshift tension wrench and pick for the front door. The paper clip was too weak to act as a tension wrench, though, and I didn't have anything else that could substitute for it, so I was out of luck. The only person I could contact was my previous housemate, Carla, to ask her to let me in since she still had her key. I didn't know if she was home so I went to the library and logged onto Facebook to message her. She never responded so I messaged Jess to ask her to call Carla. Carla didn't answer her phone. Jess didn't have her husband's number, so I messaged my friend, Jade. Jade didn't have it either. So I messaged a guy in our church congregation and he gave me the number. I gave the number to Jade, Jade called Matthew, Matthew gave the phone to Carla. Carla got onto Facebook and saw the message. Got into the house about an hour later.
Such fun!

Oh, and just a fun fact for y'all! I live 1.5 miles outside of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Yes, this is a real place. No, I can't say the name. I can't even spell it... I had to copy and paste that sucker...

Say it. I dare you.

I know, this isn't the normal tourist picture people take. I just saw it and thought, 'Hey! The name!' 
Anyway, I just call it LLanfair PG because I'm American. A lot of people call it that, actually. Welsh and English alike. This village is pretty quaint. I love it.

That, my friends, is the extent of my adventures in Wales thus far. I realized while walking back from Bangor today that I had quite a bit to say, so I thought I'd share with the world. Stay tuned. I'm going gorge walking next week. Heck yes!