Holiday Reflections

Mt Rainier Dec 24, 2013

Sunset views from Mt. Rainier, Christmas Eve 2013.

Wow, it’s been awhile since I wrote a blog post. I’ll try to keep this brief but so much has happened since the last post that I want to capture some highlights and share the best of

Christmas Eve Feast

The eve of Christmas feast

my moments with you starting with my first Muir attempt on Mt. Rainier Christmas Eve, which was beautiful and adventurous–the perfect way to start the Holiday.

It’s strange this year to know when to say Merry Christmas to my family. We have always celebrated on the eve of Christmas but it was my grandparent’s generation that held that tradition. Christmas Day was always for the immediate family and extended family visitation. Vigilia, a long held Eve tradition, has changed over the years as

Anne and Carol Sniezek
My grandparents, together again.

the family has grown but seemed to hold in my family as our central figure, my grandfather, towed the line. It is with sadness that earlier this month we said our farewells to our stronghold and changed our traditions forever more.

This was a rough fall for me knowing my grandfather would pass at any time and trying to spend as much time as I could with him and selfishly hoping he wouldn’t pass when I was traveling for work. The stress from everything weighed heavy on me and I got really sick, sicker than I’ve been in a long time. It was enough to give me pause to rethink where I want to focus my energy to prevent myself from reaching a breaking point. Happily, I can report, changes are underway.

SOAR audience

SOAR audience

Meanwhile, I’m impressed for what I have been able to achieve during this time. One of my primary focuses this year has been the success of the TEALS (teaching and literacy in schools) in Lee County. We have had some real progress with the program growing it to both the Intro to Computer Science and AP Computer Science course offerings. Increasing enrollments from 6 in Intro last year to 22 this year and 8 in the new AP class. 45% of the enrollments are girls! We have the State department of education working hard on how to take

LCHS AP Class
AP CS class, LCHS

this offering into other schools and I was invited to speak in front of some KY legislature about the program and my involvement. I m excited for the interest spawned from the talk. I want to share it with everyone so people hear the story and hopefully are inspired to do something like this in their area or help us with our initiative. You can hear the talk from an archive of the event at minute 82.

Snoqualmie tunnel
Former railroad tunnel up Snoqualmie pass in Washington State.
Photo by Luke Humphrey

While climbing is usually central to my activities, I’ve been struggling with an injury most of the fall, which has led me to explore other activities such as cycling and running. I have enjoyed road biking the Appalachian hills of Kentucky while I was there as well as reigniting my love of the NW terrain.

Another memorable moment was summiting the North Ridge of Mt. Stuart.

Mt. Stuart summit

Summit of Mt. Stuart from the complete North Ridge.
Photo by Luke Humphrey

another memorable alpine adventure was Forbidden Peak and experiencing the Alpine-scape and climbing through the eyes of a photographer.

Boston Basin

Boston Basin
Photo by Luke Humphrey

During the summer I was fortunate to train a group of enthusiastic climbers. We had a lot of fun and called ourselves the Dawn Patrol for training at 6 in the morning.

Dawn Patrol

2013 Summer climbing training team Dawn Patrol

Hot air balloon ride
Bill Ramsey inside one of the hot air balloons
hot air balloon

views of Red Rocks

The hot air balloon ride over west Vegas and right over my apartment was definitely a treat and well shared with a fellow Vegas-ite.

Moab Corona Arch exploration and rappelling in the dark was quite the experience.

corona arch

Rappelling Corona Arch at night. Photo by Luke Humphrey

The students from LCHS came to visit Microsoft, Facebook, and more. I was and continue to be really proud of these kids as they pursue further education.

Student MS visit

LCHS students visit Microsoft Corporate campus

My trip to China feels like it was another adventure in another time, far in the past, already. Still the memories will never be forgotten. That trip was an absolute one of a kind experience. Ice climbing was only a fraction of what I enjoyed there.

Ice Climbing China

2013 Ice Climbing in Western China.

The year has had many more memorable moments with family and friends. I can’t possibly highlight them all but I have appreciated what everyone has brought to my life. My KY family was the most pleasant surprise. I will miss them until I can visit again in the spring.

I love that I can connect with so many people from all over the world and I appreciate the time I spend and what I learn from them. I am looking forward to the adventures of the new year with old, new and yet to be discovered friends.

Have a wonderful Holiday, everyone, and thanks for reading this post!

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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climber, climbing coach, computer software/technology enthusiast and occasional baker/cook and wine connoisseur.
This entry was posted in Climbing, Computer Science and other geek things, Fun, Musings, Photo update, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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