UP- Tai Shan
..You gotta' begin some place so why not at the beginning of where others have gone before. The other that in this case I am seeking to emulate is Confusis (Kongzi)... the most famous of Chinese persons to the Western culture... EVERYBODY knows who Confucius is!
Interestingly It took the Chinese about 500 years to decide that he was a great man. One day one of the emperors woke up and declared that Confucius really did have it together and started having historical monuments erected to honor him and his philosophy. Of course, we as Westerners were really very lucky cause without this decree we would never have developed the fortune cookie...(Chinese people never heard of them... or the Chinese water torture or the Chinese fire drill...)
This is easy goin'. Somewhere around here, I was easily convincing myself that this was going to be a "piece of cake"... ha ha
You know, if i had had an earlier start, it would not have been half bad. But, I started around noon... and it was a hot day...
One step at a time... then its just one step... that's all... deal with it!... yeah, get over it!... ya' lard ass... wow, I am in better shape than I thought... pretty solid for an old fat dude... yeah, yeah... keep tellin' yourself that... but there are a few more steps to come... and miles to go before we sleep... miles... or kilometers, as it was here.
What the heck!... three old ladies... na... four old ladies... and they are on their way down!
...but, I figured that if they can do it, then I can do it... so, I continued to "just do it"

It is easy to see the young couple walking down the steps... hand in hand... There is a lot of hand in hand stuff over here. Lost... even guys will sort of hang on each other when they are walking down the street, and they are sober! Its just a real "touchy feelie" kind of a culture. Oddly enough, opposites sexes don't display that kind of affection. Just good friends.
BUT, what I want you to see is the cripple guy making his way down. He must have started at day break or maybe he and his woman spent the night at the top in one of the hotels. Still, its dam admirable of him to cut himself no slack and make the pilgrimage. So, AGAIN... I am encouraged, if not challenged to continue the "climb"...

School is out for the summer, and there are tons of students and families traveling together. And I am in the thick of it. AND... they love me!... I am uncle Don... the old foreign guy... a good person to practice English on.
This family (the one to the left) is from Xian. Its pronounced "See an" and is famous for the terra-cotta warriors there. They are really nice people and because of meeting them, I am interested in visiting Xian.
Up, up-up and away... there ain't no stoppin' me... its just a bunch of steps. I really feel pretty good and I don't let myself compete... I just pace myself and don't go too fast. And then, I am not sure who I would compete with. I am the doing the mosey and am usually out of sync and some what behind those I encounter on the ascent... but I may get a second wind and blow by them in the last leg... yeah... keep tellin' yer self that big guy... one step at a time!
Whew... a photo opportunity! And a chance to rest. I will remind you that it is a hot day... and I am out of shape... or rather in "big" shape... as opposed to great shape... but... amply shaped...
So, I am doing the "uncle Don" routine and making this kid happy and restin' in the shade on the cool granite. But soon, I will resume the "trudge"... that's right, I am beginning to enter the first stage of trudge... and will discover that there are many more stages awaiting me...
Family number two... and a brilliant daughter. As a matter of fact, she and I continue to email off and on. She is that kind of student that works hard and excels... at the head of the pack. Her name is IVY... she was doing a school project to get live interviews with foreigners. So, she was prepared with a small recorder and we did the "interview" on the spot. But, really, I didn't mind at all.
Incidentally, some guys go for the washboard abbs... I have chosen the smooth stone by the river look. I saw Indian women in Mexico washing cloths on a smooth stone... smooth stone... hummm... I can do that! so, I am a trend setter... who needs those tacky washboard abbs anyway!
I didn't plant it!!... but then, I am on a "holey" mountain and I am getting pretty "high" up along the climb... hummm but I don't do that any more... still, someone does huh... do what... I ain't sayin'... I mean... er... ah... humm... cheezzze... next paragraph...
The legend has it that a big kid grew up with the preordained job to push the sky up away from the ground. He worked on it for years and when he got the sky pushed to where it is now, he fell over dead. His head made this mountain... somehow that relates to this plant... but you will have to figure out how...
Nothin' special here... I just like pretty girls... I really do... a lot. So i lingered for a moment and took a shot... but then, her boyfriend likes her also... so I kept trudging on my lone treck to the top... still sort of think' about that plant and the "good ole' days..."... keep walking uncle Don... keep walking...
My daddy was a roofer, and I climbed a lot of ladders... but I never climbed so many steps. Looking back down the way I cane I was pretty impressed with myself. However, it was misplaced assurance, for, even though I have just entered phase two of the trudge level of stepping to the beat of a "different drummer"...
I am also beginning to perhaps become enlightened to the fact that, I ain't even half way yet!... not even a third of the way. Still, I am far from whupped and still so curious as to what is beyond the nest landing... lets go see!
Here we go again... the Xian family... either I just caught up to them (not so difficult since they are sitting still) or they caught up to me... I guess its the proverbial "six one way, half a dozen the other" for regardless if its the chicken of the egg, it is still a nice reprieve from the increasingly demanding climb...
You can see that the steps keep on goin'... goin' away from me... ascending into an obscured metaphoricial "horizon"... definiantly a place i have never been nor a level of