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Krispy Kreme Cruller

Last night I had a video chat with Mom, Dad and Nanny. They were eating breakfast at Nanny's house- a scrumptious looking breakfast of pork sausage with cream cheese wrapped in Pillsbury pastry dough. Needless to say I was envious of their indulgent meal. So now for some food payback!
There is a Krispy Kreme Dougnuts in Mirdif City Center- and guess what they have?

Yes. That's right. GLAZED CRULLERS!!!


Big Waves, Big Fun

Last night we had powerful winds here in Dibba, which made the sea extremely rough. Late in the night and this morning, the waves were around two meters- a rare wave height here. We spent the morning daydreaming of surfboards. Jen and Matt took advantage of the waves and took out the company body boards and went out at lunch. By afternoon, the surf had calmed down a bit - was between two and five feet. We decided it was a good afternoon to do some rough water kayak training. Griz, Meg, David,  and Nick came out to do some training, and Matt and Matty came out to have fun. I prepped Griz, Meg, David and Nick for their launch- describing what they would encounter paddling into such large waves, and how to paddle through them. Griz and I were side by side blasting through the waves. Each wave we encountered threatened to flip us over, and pushed us towards the shore. It really takes perseverance and power to muscle through big breaking waves. At one point we faced a monster wave, our only option was to dig in and shove ourselves into it. We blasted over the crest and caught huge air on the backside.

Paddling out was exciting and challenging. Everyone was laughing and smiling when we regrouped beyond the surf zone. Then it was time for some work. The team got some practice doing capsizes and rescues in the big seas- which really wasn't so bad thanks to the rolling swell. Nick let go of his kayak and got to experience the difficulty of swimming to a kayak that was floating away from him. It is definitely hard work, and nearly impossible to do in high winds. 
Nick! Your kayak is getting away!
Nick sprinting to get back to his kayak
We all took turns towing each other. I wanted them to feel what it was like to tow someone in large swell- the line jerks as the kayaks go over waves at different times- which is very unpleasant for the tower. We talked some about strategies for reducing risks while towing. I had hoped to do a few more advanced towing procedures but the waves were a bit high and the surf zone was too wide. Hopefully we'll have a few more days of choppy seas in the next month to do more training. 

Matt headed for ta wipeout
After their practical skills, it was time to practice landing. Landing in large surf is difficult and can be most dangerous part of sea kayaking. We discussed how the kayaks would react to the speed and angle of waves. It is very typical to experience your kayak turning sideways and then dumping you when surfing in. The more dangerous possibility is that your kayak will nose dive and go "end over end" launching you like a catapult toward land. After listening to these horrors, there were worried looks on a few faces. Just then Matt showed up in the short surfing kayak to show us how it was done, turning sideways and wiping out right at the end. He popped out of the foam smiling. Emboldened by Matt, they charged forward. Griz and Nick were the first to go- both of them got flipped by big crashing waves. Then it was time for me, and Meg and David in their tandem, to land. We all, of course, wiped out but had tons of fun charging down the face of the wave. 

Grizz catching an epic wave
 The thrill of catching a wave is worth the bumps and bruises from the wipeout. Our training session turned into a massive surfing session- we paddled out over and over to catch more waves. We all cheered when someone caught a massive wave and wiped out. We even drew a crowd- a bunch of locals and western expats were camping on the beach, and came to watch us surf. I even managed to catch a wave backwards in the little surf boat, and rode it backwards all the way to the sand.



Hidden Oasis Trek in Ras al Khaimah

A few days ago, all the staff from Absolute Adventure headed out to Ras al Khaimah with Ram to learn a trek that until now, only Ram knew. We drove to a wadi in Ras al Khaimah where there is lots of new construction. I have to say I was sad to see the new construction on the road. I went climbing in this wadi last year, and much of the really amazing rock climbing has either been blown up to make way for the road, covered by the earth used to build the road, or is completely unaccessible.  Some of the climbing still remains, though it is harder to get to. Thankfully, the wadis we trek through are so remote, they remain completely untouched by the new construction.

If you would like to go on this trek, you can head out with Absolute Adventure

The trek began with a pump up a steep rock ledge that ran along the wadi rim. We looked down as we hiked to see water flowing between the boulders in the wadi below us. The ledge slowly levels out and continues horizontally for a while before descending back toward earth, where it meets up with the top of the drainage that was once below us. 

Walking along the edge
Walking along the edge
We stepped off the ledge onto flat ground, surrounded by the ruins of a very small village. After passing through the village, we arrived a a large drainage filled with huge boulders.

The massive boulder field
Weaving around boulders, we found and followed an ancient path, small stone stairways hidden among the enormous rocks. We had fun jumping from rock to rock and finding different vantage points from atop the house-sized rocks. 
Tony climbing old steps up a massive boulder
Summiting the drainage rewarded us with a sudden view of green; an oasis of palm trees, tucked between the cliffs. 

The oasis high in the mountains
Beyond the oasis we entered another dramatic canyon with vertical walls. It rained recently, so there were dark streaks where little remnants of streams flowed down the rock walls. 

A dramatic canyon

Deeper into the canyon, we scampered up rocky staircases and ladders formed by dry waterfalls. 
Walking up dry waterfalls
Climbing up waterfalls
Stepping out of the canyon, we walked on steeply sloped mountainsides, headed to the highest point of our trek. At the summit of the mountain, we could see all the way to the sea. 

It was at the top of this mountain where we came to Musaibat village. Musaibat village is a small, and extremely remote village surrounded by towering peaks. There are several Pakinstani men who live in the village and care for the goats that belong to the families who own the village. These men live in extremely rustic houses without running water or electricity. They were very welcoming to us- it seemed they were excited to have company. Ram, who is from Nepal, speaks fluent Hindi and Urdu in addition to his own language, which made it easy for us to communicate with the goat herders. They invited all fifteen of us in for tea, which they made by boiling water over an outdoor fire. 

The two goat herders boiling water over a fire
An inside view of the small house

Waiting for tea
Ram pours us tea
The tea they make is very sweet. I think they make it with Lipton Yellow Label, goats milk and tons of sugar. We were thankful for their generous hospitality, so we compiled a bag of goodies from the contents of our packs to return the favor. 

We thanked them warmly and headed out. As we began our descent, I looked up to see one of the men taking our photo with his cell phone. We all got a kick out of it, smiling and waving for the camera. I was happy that they were as curious about us as we were about them. 

The trail along the mountainside soon transformed into another lofty stone ledge that hugged the side of the mountain. 
That's me pausing along the ledge for a photo
Goofing off on the ledge
Our views change as the ledge snakes around the mountainsides- we see the valley below, sheer rock faces around us, and the sea in the distance- a brilliant magenta mirror reflecting the setting sun.

Traversing the mountainsides, look how tiny we are compared to the mountain

The ledge fades into the side of the mountain, becoming a rough, rocky trail. As we descended down a slope we passed a tiny but lush date farm surrounded by a high metal fence. We stopped to rest next to a remarkable sight- two small rock pools filled with freshwater, ferns and mosses thriving around them. Ram explained that this is a natural spring that flows all year. The locals have built these small rock walls to form pools to collect the water. 
The tiny date farm on the slope
One of the pools, magical in the setting sunlight
We reached another drainage filled with boulders, and began rock hopping in the twilight. By the time we got back to the cars, night had begun.