The Makings of A Non-Vacation

The question of why my family was going to India and Nepal came up more than I anticipated.  We’ve done our share of weird trips, but people really had a problem with this one.

However as Kevin pointed out, “Why do we go half the places we travel to?”

None of us ever really have an answer. But the next set of blogs will try their best to explain.

Our friends from our parish, the Thalananys are from India.  They were going back to visit for a month. It started out as Rosemary Thalanany inviting my Mom to come stay with her in India for a girlfriend getaway, but ended in all of the Andersons inviting themselves plus one in a full blown touring and hiking extravaganza.  India has always been on my Dad’s “must-visit” list, and having almost never visited just one place on vacation, we threw in Nepal for good measure.

The atypical plus one is Deirdre, my best friend from college.

We were talking one time in March, and she said she wanted to go somewhere before she started her new job in August.   I told her I couldn’t really go anywhere, as I was already locked into my vacation time at work and was probably going to India and Nepal with my family.

“Buuut, if in a couple months you find you have nowhere to go, you could totally come with us on vacation.”  I spit it out like word vomit, not even thinking of the potential consequences of inviting Dee.  Everyone knows that vacations are deal breakers in serious relationships, à la Parent Trap and Just Married.

I tried to backtrack. “I mean, they’re not really fun vacations, and we kind of fight a lot, but just keep it in the back of your head as a last resort.”

I didn’t realize it until now, but one criteria I subconsciously look for in my best friends is “could they handle my family vacations?”  As a more-than-kind, fun, super chill and athletic person that doesn’t get hyper about anything, Dee is one of the few that could have even been considered to tag along, and I still wasn’t sure.

Several months go by and we finally were booking our trip, even though we’d decided in January that we were most likely going. I called up Dee and asked if she was still down. She was. After purchasing the tickets, the first part of Deirdre’s initiation was being added to our embarrassing, overly cheesy and sarcastic email list (my Dad the first two, the rest of us the latter). I’ll post a few highlights:
Paul Anderson on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 3:58 PM wrote:

OK World Explorers!  Including special guest Deirdre!! Our plans are pretty firm now, so let me give you an overview. First of all, Mom and I are going to the airshow at Farnborough.  Then on Monday the 16th, I fly home and Mom flies to Delhi, arriving Tuesday morning to hang out with Mrs. Thalanany for the week. Friday afternoon, July 20th, me, Kevin, Morgan and Tim fly to Delhi, one stop in Newark, NJ, arriving in Delhi Saturday evening. By the way, India time is 10 1/2 hours ahead of Chicago (9 1/2 from NYC) and if that’s not odd enough, Nepal is another 15 minutes ahead of that. Yes, we’re covering the only region of the world not on an hourly increment other than a remote area of Australia.  Don’t expect anything to be “typical”.  We fly to Nepal and into Sagarmatha National Park (Mt. Everest) meet our guide and begin our trek.  We hike up for two days and back down on the third day (Friday).

More to come regarding what to pack.  In the meantime, start exercising your leg muscles or we’ll never make it to the summit!!



“Morgan Anderson” on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 9:31 PM wrote:

quick question: why out of all places are we stopping in New Jersey? ….

“Paul Anderson” on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 2:01 AM wrote:

Ok explorers, are you ready? One month from today we’ll all be meeting in Delhi. That means you only have a month left to get yourself in shape! I read an article on extreme vacations and the number one and number two on the list were travel to India during monsoon season, and climbing Mt.Everest, respectively.  I am not kidding. Don’t worry though, they referenced eastern India where it gets up to 125°.  We’ll probably max out at a much cooler 110° around Delhi.  And their extreme Mt. Everest was to the summit.  Now for any of you freaking out about my references of hiking to the summit, and I know there’s at least one of you (Laura), any reference to the summit is a joke!  Eyeballs only, hopefully.  Trek to the 29,000′ summit is about 25 days if you’re fortunate enough to make it back alive.  We’re not going there!  Trek to Everest Base Camp at 17,600′ is about 18 days.  We’re not going there either!  If we had a week I’d do it, but we have three days. We are going to about 13,000 feet.  Two days up and one down.  We won’t need oxygen, or ice picks, or crampons (ice boots).  And we are cheating by flying part of the way up, to Lukla.  So get in shape!  Slackers will be left behind for the sherpas!  Walk, jog, ride your bike, climb stairs, ladders, throw a piano on your back just for fun.  Whatever you can…it’s crunch time (pun intended). I recall hiking with the Scouts in Iceland, deviously shedding a coffee mug with a quitter heading for the bus, desperate to lighten my load by about 8 ounces. Now I’m not sure how to prepare for the heat in India…drive your car on a hot day with the windows rolled up and a/c off?  Any ideas let me know!



P.S. India visas are in, passports back out for Nepal visas.

On May 30, 2012 2:58 PM, “Amanda Anderson” wrote:

Hi all—Just a few points,
Dad: I don’t know what seasoned Boy Scout would carry something like a coffee mug in his backpack. sounds pretty unnecessary. And since when is flying into Lukla cheating? pretty sure everyone does that…

As far as heat tolerance ideas go: MAN UP

Tim: remember when kevin and I made you drink 1 water before each Mountain Dew? ya keep doing that. we all have bets on when you will throw up on this trip…

Morgan, Tim and Kevin— I am still sore from our soccer game  but yesterday I played softball and went to the gym after. BOOM.

Mom- perhaps you could share your trainer Andre’s routines with everyone to attain your physical fitness level??

Deirdre- how much do you enjoy being on the Anderson listserve? See you all in 4 wks Love, Amanda

“Kevin Anderson” on  Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 11:52 AM wrote:

Dad: “Trek to Everest Base Camp at 17,600′ is about 18 days.  We’re not going there either!  If we   had a week I’d do it, but we have three days.”

An 18 day expedition in one week?  I’m scared what some of the other propositions were.  I guess I should stop complaining and look at our mere three day trek as a gift.

Amanda- You are not a seasoned Boy Scout [nor are you even apart of the low brow ranks of Venture Crew] and ignoring the fact that Dad took that coffee mug for collecting purposes only, the Boy Scout Motto “Be Prepared” could entail the use of a coffee mug for a variety of potentially life saving purposes and therefore should not be ignored.

And yes I am also still sore from our soccer game on Sunday and have done nothing since. BOOM

Deirdre- Congrats on attaining the rank of Anderson Explorer.  I couldn’t even imagine someone else reading our Anderson e-mail conversations.  Hopefully Amanda has given you the appropriate lecture on what to expect on an Anderson “vacation.”  I also heard you signed up voluntarily sacrificing your own vacation days and that I’ll never understand.



“Deidre Farrell” on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 1:34 PM wrote:

Anderson Family – I can’t wait to “get on your level” when it comes to hard core traveling. As I always say, it’s not a real vacation unless you risk contracting malaria and/or tuberculosis. Can’t wait to see you all in less than two weeks!

“Amanda Anderson” on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM wrote:

Furthermore, are we really trying to be more hard-core than we already are? isn’t this already our anthem?

In other news, I bonded with my neighbors who i learned are from Kathmandu because, believe it or not, i got locked out on my fricken 2nd-floor patio again this morning trying to read the Times and have some fruit and coffee outside in my pajamas. My landlord hates me.  So i had to climb over the fence to my neighbors patio and bang on their back door to let me in.  They were a little stunned (almost as stunned as they were seeing me knock on their sliding glass door from their own patio) when I asked where they were from, they said Nepal, and then I said I was going there in 2 weeks.  So I used their phone to call my landlord and a locksmith and we sat in their apartment and watched a very strange Nepali film together, perhaps a film only Kevin would appreciate. Seemed kind of Bollywood because this young guy and girl were singing songs and kind of flirting the whole time. I waited for the locksmith bra-less in my pajamas on their couch.  They told me you say Namaste to greet people (I thought it was thank you and accidentally said Namaste to them for helping me), so you see, all my traumas have some good spin on them. My new friend also said we girls can wear shorts and sleeveless stuff in Nepal that they don’t care about that stuff as much.  But her mother-in-law (who doesn’t speak English so was very perplexed by me and my frazzled state) said in Nepali to her daughter-in-law: why is this crazy girl going to Nepal now during monsoon season?

I feel like we are always asking ourselves that question. Oh well.  Off to pack! its my last off day before the trip believe it or not. Boom.

Love, Amanda

The doubters kept voicing their opinions.  My Aunt Sharon called me up and said she told her Indian neighbors we were going to Delhi for vacation. They had a similar response: That is the absolute worst time to go–it’s boiling hot and it’s monsoon season!

“Amanda, your friend is going to die,” Aunt Sharon told me on the phone.

I tried to refute her,  but she was probably right. Even I was overwhelmed looking at the packing list my dad sent us:

Long, light pants
Zip-Off pants (if avail)
Blue jeans
Under Armour type shirts
Camera (optional)
Athletic shoes
Alternate footwear (loafers/sandals)
Personal medications
T-shirt/Gym shorts for sleeping
Passport (verify expiration to be sure you have the latest)
Paper copy of passport, with credit/debit card international telephone # in case of loss
Debit card (call your bank to authorize for India/Nepal)
Cash (US) (1’s for tips, etc.)
Glasses and case (if needed)
Copy of itinerary

Nepal sub-packing (some items from above)
Two medium plastic bags
Ziploc bags for cellphone, wallet, misc.
Hiking boots
Spare shoes (or alternate footwear from above)
Small first-aid kit with Moleskin (not everybody)
Shower kit w/small soap and shampoo (or jack from Justa)
Water purifying tablets (we have)
Short pants
poncho or rain jacket w/hood
warm jacket or rain jacket to be layered
rain pants
head-lamps (we have 1-2) or small flashlight
long pajama bottoms
Long-sleeved pajama top
2 pair std. socks
2 pair heavy socks
sock liners (if avail)
carabiners (optional)
empty water bottle (like Nalgene)
gaiters (optional, we have two pair)

I had to call my Eagle Scout brother, Kevin, to translate half of this crap because I had no idea what gaiters, carabiners,  or Naglene water bottles were. And what is sub-packing? Have you ever gone on a vacation where you needed to pack various socks, water-purifying tablets or a headlamp? What about warm pajamas and cold pajamas? Note there is no sign of bathing suits, cute evening outfits, or beach towels. From the sounds of the packing list, we were going to be wet the whole time.  I was glad that a camera was considered “optional,” perhaps because of the weight limitations of what we are allowed to pack in our bags.  I sure as hell didn’t want my picture taken while wearing half this crap.

I had to draw the line somewhere. I complained to my Mom that I would absolutely not be packing zip-off paints, heavy socks or hiking boots. This was getting outrageous.  I could certainly just wear gym shoes to hike. After all, we aren’t climbing Mount Everest, we are hiking around the area on the “easy” trail.

I already had to perform damage control on Deirdre, after seeing this packing list I was sure she was going to call for a refund of her plane ticket. I told her to disregard pointless things like a headlamp, and that the trip wasn’t going to be as intense as it seemed. But then, she told me she already has a headlamp, because her parents gave her one in her stocking last Christmas.

It was at that moment that I knew why Deirdre was my best friend. I just hoped it would still be that way in 3 weeks…

2 thoughts on “The Makings of A Non-Vacation

  1. Pingback: As Close to A Himalayan Trek As Ice Cream is To Hot Soup « Frequent Failer

  2. Pingback: Frequent Failer

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