Saturday, September 26, 2015

Labor Day 2015 - A Camping Adventure

This year has been insanely busy. Nuts. We've rarely been home on the weekends, didn't have a summer party, and didn't get out camping once. So we promised each other we would find a new, quiet campground for a few days over the Labor Day weekend. I did the research, and decided on The Cove Campground - it appeared to just what we were looking for.
Little did I know just how perfect...
Napier Sportz SUV Tent 84000
So we packed the Jeep with gear, cooler, food, games, and a brand new tent that connects to the tailgate. It's huge! Naturally, I waited until the last minute to order it, so it arrived the day before we left. When it was raining. Set up at the campsite would be the first time. Adventure!! 
Bella Settles In

We also had a guest for the weekend. Little Bella! I was concerned she might be unhappy with the whole camping scene, so I brought along Langley's camping kennel (which Langley refused to ever use) in hopes it would help. In no time, she had made her tiny self right at home..She's four months old and never needed to be leashed while at the site. She stayed right by us the entire time, and would come back when called if she strayed a bit too far. I may kidnap her yet...

Food -

 I think we packed when we were hungry. Bad move. We had way too much. We could have fed two other sites. We forgot basic things. It was like we had never gone camping before. On the other hand, I had wanted to try out new things. We had crescent roll wrapped hot dogs over the open fire that were pretty good. Also these:
  I scooped out the fruit from the orange peel and loaded in the dough, wrapped it all in foil, and made cinnamon rolls in the hot coals of the fire.
Meh. They were okay.

Campsite - 

We thought the site itself was perfect. Lots of room and a little out of the way. Easy access to water: one lake and one pond on either side of us. It felt so good to swim in a lake again! You could see the dirt road a little through the trees from our tent. I was hearing what I thought were 4-wheelers alot, but I couldn't ever see them. There were a lot of them.. We bought some firewood and cranked it up the first evening... It was so nice. We cleaned up after dinner and when it got dark the dogs decided they would go in the tent to bed. I pulled out the game table and tiki torches and proceeded to get my ass beat in Yahtzee. It was just the kind of camping evening I had hoped for.

Then it happened.

The first bees started dive bombing our fire and tiki torches. And not just any bees. GINORMOUS MUTANT MOUNTAIN bees that were living in the trees. Seriously, almost 2 inches long!! That's when the camping casualty occurred. One of the kamikaze killers attacked my wife. It bored a hole in her arm that immediately started swelling. Our stellar communication went something like this:
Her, hopping around shaking her arm: "ARGH!! I'm stung!! I need ice!!"
Me: "You got stung?"
Her, now staring at her arm and wincing in pain: "YES!! I'm stung!! I need ice!!"
Me: "Seriously? You got stung?"
Her: "GET ME SOME ICE!!!"
Me:  "ok."

The next day her entire forearm was really swollen and bright red.
Me: "OMG. Should you go see a doctor? That looks painful and nasty!!"
Her: "Nah. I'll just keep an eye on it. I'm going fishing."
Me: <<blink>>

Medical people baffle me.

Offroad -  

The morning of the second day I realized there was more going on at this campsite than I realized. There were groups of offroad Jeeps heading out into the woods!! W H A T ?!?!?!?!?!?! I went back to the front office and they explained this campsite had hundreds of miles of jeep trails of every technical level used by several different groups on the weekends. In fact, the next weekend they were hosting 3000 jeeps for an annual jubilee!! Holy Divine Intervention Batman! So while Melissa sat by the pond, the puppies and I went exploring. It was so awesome that I made her come with us the next day. Man, it was a little scary taking my Jeep through some of the trail. Some of it was steep! We followed this beast up the trail to the overlook. The driver said she had bought it for herself for her 50th birthday. I had seen her husband in it earlier - looked like a lot of fun.

 I couldn't believe what these folks could do. There were boulders as big as my tires strategically placed by the shower house to square off the parking lot. HA! One guy drove his jeep up onto the rock so his right front tire was on top of the boulder and parked liked that!! I wish I would have had my camera for that one. That was awesome rebellion.



Last Straw - 

In the evenings, we had developed a routine of Mutant Killer Bee Management.  While annoying, we had figured out how to contain the disruptions to an acceptable level. Basically, Melissa would jump out of her skin at the first indication a bee was in the area. That was my cue to move the tiki torch to the ground, grab my Quadratec Catalog and roll it up into a weapon, and wait for the inevitable kamikaze to dive into the flame. Buzzing through the flame caused them to fall to the ground for a hot second, stunned but still buzzing. That's when I killed them. This dance would happen about 4 or 5 times for the evening, so not so bad.
The last night, a young guy with a spray can came by "Is someone here complaining of bees?" We had mentioned it to the office staff the day before, so maybe we were the "complainers". We pointed him to the tree. He sprayed it and left. The Ginormous Mutant Killer Bees did not die - oh no. But they DID get pissed!! It was so ugly that we ended up closing ourselves in the tent for the night. We could hear them bouncing off the tent as they tried to go for our light. ((shudder))
It was time to go home.

The next morning we tore down the site - surprisingly got that tent back in its original bag and everything! I want to go back, bees or no bees.... Well, preferably no bees.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Morning Entertainment

Always striving towards efficiency, I thought I had all of my ingredients gathered this morning to make dinner in the crockpot for tonight. But before jumping into it, I needed to give Langley breakfast and noted I needed to buy more green beans for her diet mix of hard kibble, canned dog food, pumpkin, and a vegetable. This morning I used the favorite standby of chopped raw carrots. She's a funny dog - loves veggies. She gets just as excited when we make salads as she does when we're cooking a steak!
As she happily chowed down, I put her food away and continued with dinner prep. I realized I had forgotten a key ingredient - enchilada sauce! How could I have missed that one? It's the most important element! Shaking my head in wonder that I can somehow remember to dress myself everyday, I trudged back down to the basement pantry for the enchilada sauce.  I could have sworn I had seen the cans (one must never be without an ample stock of enchilada sauce!) But I guess I didn't go the extra distance to actually pick one up. Must've seen a squirrel. (Sigh) Finally, I was able to get into my routine and get this meal started in earnest. So I set to chopping and slicing and measuring and mixing. I love this recipe for chicken tortilla soup. I've played around with some adaptations and it still always turns out delicious.
With everything sliced, diced, chopped, and measured and all mixed in the pot, I turned on the heat, covered it securely, and started clean up. I had accidentally left Langley's canned food out earlier. I had put the pumpkin back in the fridge but must have seen that damn squirrel again and just moved on. Typical.
This is what I found when I opened the fridge...
Not the can that's supposed to go next to the pumpkin

And this concludes your morning entertainment segment.
:)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Paging Santa...

Paul Walker is second from left and played character Brian O'Connor
Not the next musing I thought I'd be sharing with you. When I read about the loss of Paul Walker from Fast&Furious, I was saddened but not shocked. He liked speed. I can't knock the guy for that. He liked cars. Can't fault him for that, either. He liked the combination of the two and had the money to afford the fastest cars. (shrug) Again, if I had the means...
But then the media started in, and that's when I started feeling more...unsettled.
At first, the typical sensationalizing didn't bother me all that much.
CNN spread rumors about the possibility of another car [sarcasm]love that factual reporting style[/sarcasm].

I hadn't bothered to indulge in news articles from other organizations I know are even worse at fact annihilation, only skimming headlines as they came across my news readers. Until I saw this Westboro Baptist Church announcement that included a tweet from WBC:
The furious God cut off Paul Walker! Thank God for His condign wrath! WBC to picket funeral. @RealPaulWalker
Even as I write this I am chastising myself for giving these people one second of recognition. Their wrongness is so blatantly and outrageously unconscionable my brain doesn't have a single tool to process it. Therefore I write it out to you, you lucky set of rare individuals who for some reason continue to come here to read my ramblings.. So, since you're here anyway... I wish my pleas to understand how such criminal behavior can be socially supported weren't simply rhetorical questions. I wish a sane mind with the authority to strike down this hate organization that mocks the goodness most people hold within their hearts about their faith would show up. Just show up, stand up, establish laws that support doing the right thing, and be done with it. I wish, I wish, I wish... Isn't Santa supposed to be listening right about now? If I could ask for only one thing for Christmas, it would be to erase WBC from the memories of its current members and from the rest of us so it never existed nor would again. I could probably be good forever for that one.

Soooooo Santa ........ - are you listening??

Friday, November 1, 2013

How I Crossed the Finish Line

It was a struggle for me. You can clearly see in the event video that I'm struggling to finish. Others are feeling their finish line surge, my better half appears to glide effortlessly along, and I push forward in clumsy, obviously painful, awkwardness..
Take a look..

See what I mean?
Now. Note something else. There was a finish line there, and I crossed it. In fact, I crossed the finish line still moving. STILL RUNNING!! Well, doing "The Dukr Shuffle" anyway :) This is a big deal for me for a few reasons...
  1. I ran this event cold. I didn't bother to train and hadn't run anything significant in months. Like 6 months (pre-house remodel mobile living). Hence the pain in my knee shown all over my face.... STUPID.
  2. I almost didn't go. I tried to back out. Right up to the night before, I teetered on the edge of throwing in the towel and succumbing to excuses of fear, anxiety, and wavering self-confidence. That just seemed "easier".
  3. It was COLD!!! My lungs were out of cardio conditioning. That's a bad combination for me under normal circumstances, and I knew it. Dangerous. Risky. Again...STUPID.
  4. I wanted to give up multiple times during the event. 
    1. I was losing my breath too often - not due to the old asthmatic Burn&Wheeze in cold temps, simply unconditioned poor elasticity. Now that I look back, that's actually a good thing. 
    2. My left knee began to holler at me periodically after about mile 8. An intermittent "SURPRISE!" for a few steps that eventually worked itself out - twice requiring a walk. That was just irritating. I knew I could be doing better.
But I kept moving forward, which was the whole point of this little endeavor - to finish.
Up to this point in my story it may sound as if I'm pretty full of myself! I dug deep to call upon gritty determination and steely resolve to overcome hurdles to reach the finish line. Hooray for me!! Queue the theme from Rocky!!
(chuckle)
Yea, I know I'm as stubborn as the day is long. I get that I have a head like a rock. But in all honesty, I had very little to do with why I was able to finish The Army 10 Miler.
Take another look ...
To my left is the real reason I was able to finish.

This picture is truth.

This was Melissa's third ATM event. She had been training for it. She could have achieved a PR. Instead, she achieved her worst time by far. She chose to stay with me from the beginning. She talked with me at the beginning when I still had breath to speak. She talked me through pacing myself so I could endure the entire race. She talked me through the loss of breath to allow me to recover while continuing to move forward. And lastly, she talked me through the knee pain that certainly would have been the final straw for me had she not been there. All the while she trotted along gracefully without seeming to break a sweat, and essentially carried me along with her. So yes, technically I finished The Army 10 Miler.

Realistically, "WE" finished The Army 10 Miler.

Yet one more reason I am thankful for this life we have and the goodness it continues to bring.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Here I Go Again

This morning I ventured out on my second excursion on two wheels with no motor.
http://tenerife-training.net/Tenerife-News-Cycling-Blog
/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/stuarts-bike-cartoon.jpg
Yep, just a plain ol' bicycle. Well, it's a pretty snazzy and snappy bicycle with lots of awesome farkle that I think has it's own "fast", but that's another story... At 21.5 miles I bested my first outing by 6-ish miles. For the people I choose to surround myself with, these numbers are their basic warm-ups. I'm once again knowingly registering myself in Kindergarten in a brand new-to-me school while my peers are graduate students riding centuries or traversing Iowa. Why? (shrug) I guess for a few reasons...

  1. I'm getting old and fat - the sports I played when I was a younger soul would land me in traction today. Finding new ways to "play" is necessary.
  2. My Mostest Favoritest Person (MFP) loves cycling. Since she continues to run partly because she wants to be supportive of my running (even though she hates it), I thought learning to cycle to support her would be a good thing for me to do. Although given her superior athleticism, this really isn't a 1-for-1 effort. She really should be required to do at least one more thing she doesn't like to make it fair. Suggestions are welcome.
  3. Everybody else is doing it. No seriously - they are. So the insatiable curiosity within me needs to understand why the HELL they like this torture so much!!
So far, I've never had such ass-pain in my life, but they tell me that gets better with time and before I know it I will love cycling like they all do. I am hesitant to believe that anything causing that much discomfort to such critical and sensitive areas is in ANY way something to pursue to "get used to", but they are pretty persuasive. And I am but a weak follower.
With butt-ache.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Autopilot "OFF"

I didn't get it at first.
I guess I've never gotten it, really. <squirrel> Is "gotten" really an acceptable word?</squirrel>
There is something to be said for having your own stuff around you. Even if it's not much stuff. Even if it's not new or shiny or badass stuff, as long as it's your stuff. And you can see it, touch it, just know it's there. That's important.
Important for what?
Important to feel settled. Grounded. Relaxed. In control. Or at least have half a chance to not lose control. Know what I mean? It's like a comfort thing. Or perhaps it has more to do with already feeling settled, grounded, and relaxed. Maybe that's more the issue: the having then the not having, as opposed to not having had to begin with. Are you feeling this?
Langley and I left our house so a 3 week construction/remodel by professional contractors could replace our only bathroom and finish our small basement. That was 8 weeks ago. They tell me it might be another 2 weeks yet. At first it was "just another thing". We adapted with the kindness and love from good friends who put us up and just did it. But then the timeline kept getting pushed to the right. More delays. My autopilot started to malfunction. Work started getting harder. I was tired. A lot. Then the allergies smacked me around, and I came down with a cold. I started forgetting things, like races I had signed up for. Work was getting harder still. Langley started to act out. And man I was tired.
Still wasn't getting it.
Then Langley and I went back to my hometown, stayed with Mom and Cass, attended the wedding of good friends, saw other old and very dear friends, and I slept. I slept all night even. So did Langley.
It was comfortable being with these people. Familiar enough to fall into a sense of relaxation without trying. It was only on the drive home when I had 9 hours to be in my head that it all started coming together. I started to get it. Being displaced from my home was getting to me. It was like the final straw, and it was real.
And now the irony: Since the light bulb went off,  I feel like I've taken another breath and will be good for the next few weeks until I can get back into the house - and for the next few months until Melissa comes home. I'm looking forward to being boring, doing nothing and anything, and just being normal again in August.

Friday, April 26, 2013

To Be A Better Person, I Passed By A Fallen Cyclist

At some point this week, it might have been Tuesday or Wednesday, I drove by what appeared to be a car-bicycle accident.
Hmmm..That sentence alone conjures up several tangent threads given my current A.D.D. state: why I have no idea what day it was; driving the truck instead of the convertible or bike; the fact that I was driving at all in the middle of the day; rants on a self-absorbed populous.
But I digress..
I was on a 4 lane side road. And yes, that does, in fact, mean two lanes in either direction. In this area they are quite commonly called "side roads". Not to be confused with side roads of the dirt nature - or just plain of nature, found where regular folk live beyond the entitlements of urbanites.
Oops. Again, I digress...
As I approached the scene, a white-haired man in a blue short-sleeved polo shirt, long-ish oatmeal colored cargo shorts, white crew socks and sneakers was sitting in the road just prior to the intersection of a street perpendicular to the one I was on. He was in the center of the right turn lane propping himself up on one arm while his bicycle lay between his feet. He looked like you would envision someone's grandfather looking like. About five feet back up the street, away from the intersection, was the car. The driver, a young smartly dressed asian man, was getting out of his (BMW? Audi? I forget now..) car. In the time it took me to pass (keep in mind the traffic nightmare that exists nearly all of the time here) the older man made one, then a second and obviously painful attempt to stand up. As he righted himself, the young driver reached his side with his hand tentatively extended in a gesture of help that was refused and the young man took a half step back. They seemed to stand there looking at each other for a slow second, then the older man turned, picked up his bicycle and turned it upside down where he stood, which was still in the middle of the right turn lane, and began inspecting it. The young man, now facing the older man's back, turned back to his car while dialing on his cell and holding it to his ear.
End of my visual.
My first thoughts were reactionary: "Is he badly hurt? What could I even do other than keep them safe from other traffic? I wish Melissa was here, she would know exactly how to figure out if he's hurt and what to do." to then thinking "He's up, seems okay. Are they gonna get ugly with each other? Should I stop? Would I help or just make a bad situation worse?" to finally "Staying there they are backing up that turn lane and causing more frustration to others trying to get by.Why didn't they move to the curb (bike to sidewalk) to get to safer ground? Is it just a shock-induced lack of judgement? Is it arrogance?"
And then I was beyond the intersection with all of the other passers-by who also didn't stop to offer/inquire about help. Or add to an already embarrassing and possibly contentious situation by trying to "help" when no help was wanted nor needed. For me, it was over.
Or so I thought.
It's been in my head ever since. I constantly struggle with that "MUST HELP OTHERS" tsunami that explodes whenever I encounter someone in distress. It's been one hell of an effort these last few years to tame that beast and push it back into an acceptably sized box. More than once throughout the course of my life it was responsible for getting me into undesirable situations before I realized what I had done. There are people in my life that are reading this right now that are probably nodding vigorously. (smile) I know, I know.. But it made for interesting stories, right?
Being controlling can come in many forms. When I force "help" on someone who has not asked for help, I'm basically robbing them of the chance to help themselves. If this is a weakness they already have, I enable it. I might as well come out and say "I don't think you have the means to help yourself so I'm going to do it for you" That can lead to unhealthy dependencies and resentments. Rarely does it lead to betterment. Since I typically mean well, that's the exact opposite of my intentions. It's taken a long time to not feel really guilty trying to put this into practice. But on this day, I passed by a fallen bicyclist to support a better me.
Ohhhh the irony!!

Look, I'm a Gemini - we play head games with ourselves.
It's what we do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blockages

The desire to write is gnawing at me. It's always been just this spontaneous thing that I do for no other reason than to get it -whatever "it" is at the moment - out of my system. It's not only fun to play around with words, but it feels good to do it. It's kinda like motorcycling or running - there's this joy in execution that's different every time.
But how do I up my game? How does one move beyond the spontaneous? I guess that is what makes one a "writer". That superhuman ability to deliver spontaneity - on demand. Doesn't that sound like fun? OH THE PRESSURE!!!! (shaking head) Noooo... I am not a writer. I just like to write. The problems start when I succomb to the emotional wants before I have the intellectual fodder cooked up and ready to serve. What happens? I sit down to my laptop ready to get lost in words - and words become lost on me. They fly from my mind like leaves in a hurricane. The screen stays blank, there are no satisfying key tapping noises, nothing happens. Another opportunity to experience that joy in execution eludes me - and you remain unentertained. Again.
So what do you do, mysterious unknown reader? How do you bust through whatever blocks that keep you from doing the things that you really want to do?
Of course, this is all rhetorical. But if I don't write it, it won't stick in my head. This is a keeper to maintain an awareness of and ponder during those moments of multi-wandering.. You know, when you're already multi-tasking and your mind still wanders off to chew on something completely different for awhile. Multi-wandering. This would NOT be in Dictionary.com.
But it should be.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Resuscitation

From Dictionary.com (that site is like a virtual appendage):

re·sus·ci·tate

  [ri-suhs-i-teyt]  
verb (used with object), re·sus·ci·tat·ed, re·sus·ci·tat·ing.
to revive, especially from apparent death or from unconsciousness.


That seems about right. It's been over a year since I've spent any time here. In internet time, that's death many times over. For some reason just recently I've been feeling the need to write again, but was skeptical regarding my own commitment to maintaining a blog presence. I oscillated back and forth (I do that - literally) on whether or not to simply kill the account and domain due to lack of tenacity. Then logic struck like lightening - what does it really matter when I'm only writing for me? That simplistic truth transformed doubt into excitement to "play blogger" within seconds. 

I know what you're probably thinking. That I would be more relaxed about things like this if I didn't allow myself to overthink everything..
Yea.
- Have you met me?!?

Welcome back to my world. It changes all of the time. I'll try and find something interesting about it to share here more often. "Interesting", of course, being a relative term... 

Friday, October 21, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

....And it's freakin' ridiculous what can change in a year!! A few weeks ago I finished the Pennsylvania Ragnar Relay Race with my better half and 10 friends.
Our team was named "Couch Potatoes Gone Wild", affectionately known as "the Potatards". Read about it - 200 miles, 36 hrs - it's insane. I ran further than I'd run yet: 15.5 miles within 30 hours. The first 3 runs felt good. The first two were back-to-back legs that were fueled by adrenaline and fear. The 3rd leg was down from a fire tower in the middle of the night. Okay, THAT was pretty awesome. The darkness was like going-outside-after-a-heavy-snow-quiet. My headlamp illuminated my immediate world, and I hoped no deer (or bear) would wonder into my path. It was an excellent run. My last leg, however, S U C K E D. And by that, I mean it really sucked. Others had run worse, but still, it sucked. My team hung with me, feeding the ego within that didn't want to die in front of them, and I lived.
We were led by Captain Potatard (above) - he was an awesome leader. I think we'll be doing it again. It was a huge challenge, but for me it was the culmination of "I think I can." Now, I know I can. Cool stuff. So now I run.