It’s quite and I’m cold

It’s quite and I’m cold, the rain is picking up and the anticipation has created an electrifying feeling in the air. The stadium is packed, as is the club house. The multi-national crowed is excited, and they all wait patiently. It starts, quietly. I don’t recognize it, but I know what it is. The chilling shiver I get through my entire body is something I have only experienced twice before in my life. They have chosen a 4 year old girl to sing the anthem this evening, and what an amazing choice it is.

The anthem of the Czech Republic is not a show of power, force, or a beating of their own chest. To someone who doesn’t understand the words, it is soft, elegant, and polite, much the same traits every Czech I have met so far has. As this little girl grips the microphone that is too big for her hands, she starts with a voice so soft you almost can’t hear it over the rain. The crowed on one side of the stadium joins in for the second verse, the rest of the crowed for the third. Every hair on my body stands up. This experience is surreal, I feel a wave of emotion come over me. The eruption of applause when she finished was thunderous. The stakes are high, this game is the climax of the tournament. LCC Radotin, the host club, has not won the tournament in 12 years. Their opponents, the Boston Megamen, have won many times and are defending champions.

The rain has added a variable to the game no one expected, and small puddles form as the game starts. LCC Radotin is first to score, setting the place on fire. People pour out of the clubhouse with the excitement on the field. LCC scores again, and again. They can’t be stopped, it’s incredible. These young men from a developing lacrosse country are taking it to a seasoned group of experienced lacrosse players from one of the top countries in the game. Boston rallies back a bit after a timeout, but it’s clear to everyone they are out matched.

The Czech Republic is not known for their lacrosse. Although they have been playing it for over 20 years, they have very few experienced coaches and individuals to help develop their players to a high level. The group of men playing for the title today is exceptionally talented. I’ve watched a lot of lacrosse, and these players are the real deal. Swinging the ball from side to side, firm and crisp passes, quick and accurate shots, they have it all. With military like discipline they went through the entire tournament without a single penalty, which is unheard of in the game of box lacrosse. The second half was even more impressive then the first, with LCC scoring one of the most impressive goals. Their MVP, Petr Poupě, is a natural lacrosse all-star. He has single handedly beaten (scoring enough goals himself to win the game) a Canadian Box team in the tournament, and assisted on the single most impressive goal I’ve ever seen. This 25yr old is one of the most talented lacrosse players in the world, and no one knows about him. His finesse around the net, and dominating leadership on the floor had defeated Boston with time still on the clock. The celebration at the final buzzer was spectacular. Grown men as happy as children on Christmas morning. Spectators sobbing with joy, people hugging each other. This win wasn’t just for the team, it was for their town, and their nation.

The events of the evening unfolded like a fairy tale story. The 20th anniversary of the tournament was the largest attended tournament to date. To have been a part of that game is something that will stay with me forever. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to take part in the tournament, and in the final game.


20th annual Ales Hrebesky memorial tournament

Striped shirt, check. Black pants, check. Whistle, check. Amazing setting for an international box lacrosse tournament, Czech.

Ok, so this is hard. Blogging while in such an amazing place, but here it is, short and suite. I got off the airplane on Wednesday, straight to the venue for the tournament, and was on the floor within an hour.

The floor is a custom built outdoor, artificial turf, lacrosse arena. The city of Prague donated a pile of money for this new arena a few years ago, and it is paying off in spades with the development of the Czech players.

Their club house, pictured below, was built in 1936 as a sports complex for youth. During the day the clubhouse is used as a facility for sports such as basketball, badminton, table tennis and others. The location is home to LCC Radotin, Lacrosse Club Czech Radotin, who hosts the Ales Hrebesky Memorial Tournament. For more information, visit their website

The tournament consists of 20 teams from 13 countries playing under FIL indoor rules (2010 NLL rules). The surface is identical to the NLL, the location is not.

Radotin is a suburb of Prague, and is located about 20mins south west of the capital city, for those of you who have yet to Wikipedia yourself some information. The venue is in the middle of a residential area. Like a back alley park, but way more awesome.

The weather has been spectacular, the growth of the game in developing lacrosse countries is astronomical, and the atmosphere during the tournament words can not describe.

The setting, the people, the organizers (Ondrej Mika is an amazing facilitator of the tournament), the lacrosse. I’d say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, but its not. I’ll be back, in one capacity or another, because this place is something special.

Having never worked the floor with someone who spoke little to no English in an officiating partnership, this was a true, authentic, european experience for me. A few of my partners over the last two days had yet to master the English language, but that did not matter. With only a few years of box officiating experience under their belts, the skills and development of the officials is incredible and is attributed to one man, Greg Hart. Greg, a colleague of mine in the NLL has been attending, training, and mentoring these officials over the last 5 years and both sides of this relationship have benefited greatly from it.

With Friday just a few hours away, and the quarter and semi final matches soon to be played, I’m sure the best lacrosse is yet to come.

Below are a few pictures I took while around the box earlier today. It’s ok to be jealous…




I amsterdam

And the journey begins. The minute I stepped out of customs I could feel the European atmosphere, and by that I mean cigarette smoke. The airport isn’t that special, but as soon as your our you get a real taste of what this place is all about. Entrances to 5 different train stops all funnel out directly to to front entrance of the airport. Within minutes I had shady looking characters asking me if I was looking for a taxi. Yes, as a matter of fact I am, but there isn’t a chance in hell I’m letting you take me to one.

The first thing I noticed about the taxis is that they aren’t a Toyota Prius. Mercedes Benz all the way. This sleek black coupe was ripping down the freeway in a heart beat. Where we headed from there I really have no idea, but we ended up at the flat I’m renting. I grabbed the keys, dropped my bags, and headed off to explore. Having just travelled for the last 11 hours it was either take a nap, or head out.

The streets are narrow and cars are everywhere, parking is expensive, if you can even find it, so a bicycle is the dominated mode of transportation. Bike lanes everywhere (vancouverites would go mad!), there is even traffic lights specifically for them.

I took a quick browse into the Heineken Experiences, basically their brewery and show case, on my way to find the Rijksmuseum. Having been closed for 10 years for reconstruction, the executive director of the museum is bringing it into the 21st century, unlike other museums of its kind. From the aesthetics and architecture of the building, to the collection it holds.

Want to take a picture of a piece?? Go ahead. It’s one, if not the only, museum where you can actually do that (without a flash, of course). The idea behind this, along with releasing multiple images of the collection digitally, is that the more exposure the museum and the collection gets, the more popular it will become. I’m not going to lie, this sits very will with me. It’s not that I can’t use my mind to remember, or words to describe what I’ve seen to my friends and family, but like they say… A picture is worth a thousand words, and I plan to take lots of picture.


KLM Flight 682

As a first time Royal Dutch Airlines, I really didn’t know what to expect. Although not a frequent international traveller, I have made a few treks outside of North America and I know what good service is all about. Although being greeted while boarding the aircraft by a flight attendant, that was the last bit of communication from the staff until the mandatory seatbelt check immediately before takeoff. I always have my head phones in and really don’t like to be bothered much, but needing someone to take away the pillow and blanket left on my seat, and I found it rather frustrating to have no one visible within the cabin to attend to my needs.

The flight takes off and we’re in the air about 10 minutes early, this is nice. Within a few minutes of the seatbelt signs being turned off I have a drink on my table, and 20 minutes after that the food cart comes out. The look on the flight attendants face when she gets to me says it all. There are no longer any meal options available, I will be having pasta for dinner. Although I’ve had worse airplane food in my life, the fact they showed me my options and offered an upgraded meal during my online check-in makes this even harder to swallow than the stake bunch which accompanied my pasta.

I am flying economy class and I occupy a seat in row 20 of a 45 row section. I’m being told that all the passengers previously had chosen the chicken or the stir-fry dish (no shit eh?) and they were only left with the pasta. Strike one KLM, strike one.

Chitwan National Park

The Chitwan National Park is a wildlife reserve located in southern Nepal and bordering India. From Kathmandu, you take a short 25minute plane ride, or a 9hour bus trip, we chose the shorter of the two.

April 19th, we arrived at a small air field in Bharatpur(spelling?), hoped in the guest house van, and were on our way.

We arrived at the Maruni Sanctuary Lodge, which is owned and operated by the Kathmandu Guest House chain, in the mid afternoon and had a few hours to ourselves to settle in and relax a bit.

The layout is rather unique. We are surrounded by rice farms on all sides, and about a 10minute by car from the nearest town. There are approximately 20 or so cabins, each with 2 beds and a bathroom. There is also a main building which houses approximately 15-20 suites as well. There is a dinning hall located in the center of the property where all meals are served, buffet style.

At around 430-5ish our guide from the Lodge, Mehadev, took us on a nature walk. It took about 45minutes to walk into town through a forested area and down a riverbank. Along the way we saw goats, chickens, cows, and a pair of one horn Rhinos.

The Rhinos were incredible. An elderly male had adopted a orphaned younger male to help him protect his territory, which happened to be the closest to town. They looked like real life dinosaurs. They grazed on grass, and took a little dip in the river we were perched on the side of. I have some great photos and videos from the experience.

The rest of the evening is pretty much a blur past that. It was definitely the highlight of the day.

April 20th. We woke shortly before 7 and the day was getting warm already. We had a fun filled day of adventures planned so everyone grabbed a quick bite to eat and we loaded up the back of a pickup truck and headed off to our first adventure of the day, Elephant riding.

Shortly after arriving at an open field with a couple of platforms, 4 domesticated Indian Elephants came walking out of the bush not far from where we were. They strolled up to the platforms and backed themselves in the same way we would back into a parking stall at home. The drivers sat on the back of their necks and the rest of us sat in little wooden box which was placed on top of Elephants back. The ride lasted about 2 hours. We ventured off into the jungle for some nature watching. We saw a mongoose, many different species of birds, a few different types of deer, and some other random creatures. After approximately 2 hours we found ourselves back at the same platform we started from. The elephants backed themselves in, yet again, and we dismounted. Now the question came, how do you tip a guy sitting on top of an elephant, 12-15 feet above the ground? The answer is easy, you don’t. You tip the elephant. I pulled out a 500rs (rupee) bill and folded it. The elephant reached his trunk out and gently snatched the bill out of my hand. He immediately rolled his trunk backwards and handed it to the driver. Very impressive!

The group stood around wondering what our next event was. Our guide from the Lodge told us we would now be going to a river near by to wash the elephants. He also asked if anyone was interested in riding on their back for the 10minute walk, now that their saddle had been taken off. I was the first to jump on that idea.

We headed to the river where we played in the water with 4 elephants for a good hour. The videos we have are great, and the pictures are damn near amazing!

We returned to the Maruni Sanctuary for lunch and a little nap. The heat in the mid-day sun was passing 35 degrees, and a little break was much needed.

After a few hours of downtime, we set off on a dug-out canoe tour down the river. The purpose of the trip was mainly for some birding, however we saw a number of crocodiles along the way so it was a rather unique adventure.

We finished the afternoon on a river side patio where the group drank beers, Fantas, and a few bottles of water before heading home to watch a Tharu cultural show.

The entire lodge gathered near the kitchen/dinning room for an evening of song and dance provided by a local group of natives known as the Tharu. They are native to southern Nepal, and showed us the song/dance they use to keep the Rhinos and Elephant out of their crops. Using fire, sticks, and loud chants, it was very easy to see how this would benefit the local farmers in keeping their crops protected.

Our evening was finished off with an authentic Nepalese meal, then we headed off to our cabins. It was a rather late night or us, not getting to bed until around half past 9 ;)

We are currently waiting in the Kathmandu Airport on our way to Bangkok.

This chapter of our adventure is now complete, but I am sure there will be more to come.

Trek updates… The final chapter.

So… Although we had a lot of downtime during the adventure in the Khumbu, there wasn’t much time or patience to write everything that happened. So here’s an update.

While in Lobuche, one of our Nepali friends (B) had a cut become infected, and a day later, while in Gorak Shep she got an infection in the Lymphatic system of the arm where she had her cut.

The day our group made the trek up Kala Patthar, B had to go down to a lower elevation (Pheriche) so arrest the development of the infection.

Our group returned to Pheriche that evening to find one of our comrades, Diane Z, had fallen ill with AMS, the effects of altitude. That evening was damage control. Oxygen for Diane, IV antibiotics for B from the Himalayan Rescue Associations hospital, which thankfully is located in Pheriche.

We woke to find B’s hand/arm swollen like a hockey glove, and blood poisoning beginning to spread through her system (visible with streaks running up her arm). Dianes AMS symptoms has worsened, so Coach White had to hop into action.

A phone call, or 6, to the insurance company to get clearance for a helicopter evacuation for Diane, which would also include a spare seat for B so she could get proper medical attention in Kathmandu.

Seconds seem like minutes, and minutes seem like hours when you’re waiting to get someone evacuated. Finally, after an hour of phone calls and an hour of waiting our turn for a helicopter, there it was. A beautiful black bird with red trim showed up to whisk away Diane and B. As quickly as it came, it was gone. They were on the way to safety. Diane needed drastically lower elevation and B needed a hospital, badly.

Everyone on the trek was under the assumption B had been bitten by something. She said she felt a sharp pain in her hand while laying in bed that evening in Lobuche. It wasn’t until the evening after she was evacuated that we found out it was a previous ‘scratch’ which had become infected.

So now, it’s about noon April 15th, I think. We leave Pheriche for Deboche. The walk takes a large portion of the day but we wind up at a wonderful tea house known as Rivendell. We have a later dinner, and head to bed (surprise surprise eh?)

The morning of the 16th we found another of our fellow Trekkers had fallen ill. This time one of our Kiwis, Chris. For lack of a better term, she had the Khumbu Rumble. For those of you who have never travelled to a 3rd world country, you won’t quite know what this is all about. For those of you who have, she had a bout of rumbly belly. She was zapped of her energy, and felt like she wanted to lay in bed all day.

Unfortunately, laying in bed all day doesn’t really do anything for you when you’re still at an altitude equivalent to being on top of Mt Baker, or higher. The body doesn’t rejuvenate itself at altitude, however there is a catch-all cure for ailments suffered while you’re up where we were… Descend, descend, descend, and that’s what we were going to do.

Chris was able to muster the strength from the tea house to get up about a 1000ft incline of a hill to Tengboche, but that was about it. From there she needed a horse to take her down into a valley which was another 1000-1500ft, then back up the other side of equal elevation.

Speaking from experience (I suffered the same fate last year) I know the torment she went through both with the health issues, and those of being guided on a horse up and down some very unfriendly trails. All in all, she did very well with the hand that was dealt to her and managed to tough it out for the next 3 days until we were able to get out of the Khumbu.

B has had an operation to clear up tue swelling and she is now recovering well in hospital. Hopefully soon she will be able to head home for some much needed rest.

As for the rest of us, there is still a little Khumbu Cough left in some of us, but the remainder are all in good health with nothing but entertaining stories to tell of their travels through the Himalayas.

So it’s the 19th today, and we’re sitting in a cute little bungalow at the Kathmandu Guest House Resort at the Chitwan National Park. It’s pushing 30+ degrees outside, the fans on full blast, and I’m about to take a nap. Tonight, I believe, we have an evening of culture at a performance center where the local people, known as the Thara, will be singing and dancing for us in native attire.

The adventure continues.

Quick update – Chitwan

Quick little update for those of you following along.

We’re back from the trek/adventure part of the trip, and we’re now on the vacation/relaxation part, woohoo!

We arrived back in Kathmandu to be taken to a gorgeous resort known as the Park Villa. A pool (one of only 3 in the city), western style amenities, clean sheets, and a hot shower… We feel like royalty.

Today we’re heading to Chitwan National Park and Game Reserve. The plan is to ride Elephants, see Tigers and Rhinos, and swim with Crocodiles ( ;) ) over the next 3days.

We’re unsure if they have Internet, but if they do we’ll throw up a post or two.

I still have 2 or 3 articles to write about our trip. I’ll try and get to those asap.

Talk soon.

Like water through a drain we’re going down down down!

This one is published a little late took me a bit to write it.

April 14th, 440am. The ringing starts, no one moves. It gets louder, still nothing. We’re both tucked into our warm sleeping bags, and no one wants to touch the alarm because it’s -6c in our room. Finally, Chelsea reaches over and turns it off. We leave in 20minutes, well, 19 now. Head lamps on, there is actually very little to do. We slept in the clothes we’d be wearing today, our water bottles are full, and we have snacks in our backpacks.

It’s barely light out, just enough to see. There’s a 150 meter dune of rocks we must cross to start up the hill. Kala Patthar is a trekking peak located across the Khumbu glacier from Everest and it’s neighboring peaks Lhotse and Nuptse. As we start up the mountain, we’re heading straight up hill. I’m freezing cold, my lungs are pumping, and my heart is pounding so hard I can hear it in my ears. There are 4 steps to this mountain, and we’re 20% of the way up the first.

10 minutes later, still on the first step my world starts to spin. My eyes are fuzzy, I’m going to throw up. Darkness is taking over. All I see is a black circle, closing like the shutter of a camera in slow motion. I shake it off. 3 deep breaths and a physical head shake, I’m back to reality. 17,000 feet and climbing. Left foot forward, breathe in, breathe out, right foot forward, repeat. I keep telling myself it’s a mental struggle, not a physical one. I’ve been here before, I can do it again. 5 steps later it starts, again. Dizziness, I’m going to vomit, I’m not getting enough oxygen, my body loses control and I jerk forward like I just fell asleep. I pull myself up on my trekking poles and manage to find a place to sit down. I was seconds away from going face down, half way up a mountain in the middle of the Himalayas. Things are not going well. I’m conscious, and that’s about it. A chill sets in through my body like never before. Thoughts, and pictures, of hypothermia run through my head. I ask someone to get Eoin. Seconds later he shows up, with Kami by his side. We go over the last 2minutes of my life, the future does not look good.

‘you’ve got two options’ he says after a brief discussion. ‘either take the oxygen, or go down’. HA!! 10 days of hiking through these mountains, I am not turning back. Kami breaks open his bag and pulls out the mask, throttles the regulator to full, and we wait. We wait there until my head stops spinning. It only takes a few minutes. I can’t say I was back to normal, but the worse was over. Eoin and I were way behind the group, but we didn’t care. He wanted me at the top as much as I wanted to be there. We moved at a pace that would have turtles second looking. 30minutes later the sun was starting to crest over Everest. The clouds were not clear, by any means, but we had a spectacular view. There’s a cloud blanketing the entire bottom of the valley, which we are now above, and there is a small fog still lingering around the summit of Everest. We are in the middle, and it’s crystal clear. I have the mask off my face for right now, getting some water and a snack, and Kami starts rhyming off the mountains in order from right to left across our view. There’s about 12 peaks, all above 20,000feet in this range, and I can only remember a few. Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Lhotse, Everest, Cho Oyu. After Kami finishes his statement with ‘Now that’s Hey good looking’. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment in my life.

I continued using oxygen until we were about 30minutes from the top, which was about another hour and a bit.

We made it. Eoin and I showed up to the top of the mountain a good 45minutes after everyone else, Chelsea included, but at least we made it.

Everest was not very clear that day as the weather changed every 5 minutes for the next half hour. We got our pictures and got the hell out of there.

The rest of the day was quite arduous. We left the tea house in Gorak Shep at 5am and got into Pheriche at 615pm. There was very little chatter around the dinner table that night, mostly just tired bodies filling their faces then sliding off for some much needed sleep.

Bottom of the top of the world

April 15th, 2011… Captains log :) jkjk. I’m currently down out of the altitude, so I’m feeling a hell of a lot better then I was the last 2 days.

Let’s rewind a few days.

April 13th, we leave Lobuche at 6am and head out for Gorak Shep(5180m). We arrive at 1015am, 4hours of walking above 17,000ft feels like hell. We settle into the tea house, and get ready for the trip to basecamp. I am feeling way more confident knowing what I’m getting myself into this year.

After the morning haul, our afternoon stroll would have been blissful, but there is very little blissful about going up and down 100meter hills for 2 hours with 50% of the oxygen available at sea-level. When we got there, the welcome mat was outstanding. A 10foot high pile of rocks, covered in tattered and torn cloth, a flattened piece of rock marked with a sharpie ‘Everest Base Camp – 5364meters’. It may not sound like the end of an epic journey, but trust me, that lump of rock covered in prayer flags should be an 8th wonder of the world.

It took us another 2.5 hours of ‘slowly slowly’ before we finally returned to the tea house for the night. Quick eats, and straight to bed, leaving at 5am for Kala Patthar.