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LIFE AS A MIDDLE MANN

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The Never-Ending Adventures of Bird Mann pt 3

Part 3 of my brother's bird-watching adventure in India-- Hola familia, Hope you're doing well! Just a shorter update today before I fly out to Nairobi tomorrow night. It was my last day high in the mountains and got off to a . . . er . . . bumpy start! I actually swore out loud - yikes not good Jase! I met a local guy yesterday who knew some good birding in the area and we planned to meet at 6:30 this morning at the stop of Snow View, above the old British hill resort of Naini Tal. The problem was that my little (stick shift) car does not do well on steep inclines and it's easy to get lost in the little alleys. I decided to sleep near the summit in my car . . . all went fine until I tried to drive out this morning - in a sleepy stupor I failed to correctly assess the road and ended up backing up into a drainage gutter about one foot wide and two feet deep. Fortunately, this was on the "land" side of the road, not the "air" side, but still, it was 6:15 and I was stuck. To make things worse, about two feet before I went down I realized what was happening and hit the brakes. Even with my emergency brake on, I slide the last two fee t and then clunked down into the hole (bad) and then rammed my back right corner into the stone wall (worse). What a bummer! It's tricky driving stick on the opposite side anyway, but I knew there would be no towtrucks or even pickups around. Most people walk or use a horse. Hmm . . . and my friend was waiting at the top. After freaking out for about two minutes, a sweet grandma who witnessed the whole thing found a couple strapping guys and knocked on my window. I was beginning to give it to the Lord when they went to work. They put stones behind certain tires and stones under the one in the ditch. The found a big crowbar and literally lifted the back end up while I hit the gas . . . kind of scary on a cliffside but they were used to the mountains. Praise the Lord - I made it out and there wasn't even really a scratch on the back corner! Not sure how that happened. So now it's about 6:35 and I head up the hill again, get stuck once again (much smaller this time) and run the rest of the way. My guide helps me push so I can get it into gear without rolling down backwards - yikes! All in all God has been so faithful and I'm headed down the mountain tonight to leave tomorrow. But . . . the main reason I'm writing this is to share about the *incredible* mountains I saw from the top . . . I was basically in the high foothills but you can view the highest mountain in India to the north . . . it's called Nanda Devi and stands over 25,600 feet high. Watching the sun rise and reflect off the gleaming white slopes was breathtaking. God did such a good job with that mountain . . . I had never really understood the whole spiritual draw to the Himalayas until this morning - wow. The sky was such clear blue and you just had to praise the Lord. Bottomline, I now think I want to go to the Himalayas, preferably with some family. Though climbing one of those peaks may be a bit intense for most, you can trek during the summer. I propose that we do this at some point in the next twenty years, my treat, with the difficulty level geared for group.
Oh, one more thing. My birding goal for this trip was 300 over 12 days . . . by comparison a professional tour lasting three weeks found 332. I passed 300 yesterday, and 332 today! I'm now at 340 - praise the Lord! He has really taken great care of me, esp when you consider that the cost of the tour is $7500, while my cost is <$1000. And they didn't even get to sleep in their car! ha

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