With God life has no limits, because death has no victory.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Here's Your Sign

This post is dedicated solely to the interesting, funny & downright weird signs I've seen from all over the world. Enjoy.

I personally think they are intimidated

Not exactly a sign, but too good to pass up.

At a climbing gym...if you don't climb smart, you will end up looking like that!

Ok then, I'll come back when I'm not stupid.

The restroom for the desperate. Ya know, I'm good, I really don't have to go that bad.

Running fast into the wall, because I always follow directions.


My sister's explaination: The zombie dance is required when exiting the metro.

"To make sure your child stays, clamp their hand in the door" -Carrie

I have to admit, I'm suspicious.

Folks, beyond this point, there is no hope.

It says "Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often". What I always wanted to do when visiting the porcelin throne. 


Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Woodsy-What-Not Strikes Again

I must have forgotten that eating peanut butter and jelly every single day was so bad because just a mere two weeks after getting out of the wilderness, I was headed back to try the woodsy what-not thing once again. This time to Colorado. *insert the happy dance*-About Colorado, not peanut butter & jelly.
This time, I was going with about 7 girls from STEP Advanced. We met in Dallas & drove a van to CO, stopping overnight in New Mexico. Now, if you’ve ever been to northwest Texas, you know how boring it is to drive through. “Look…flatness! And scrub brush!” An hour later: “Yay! More scrub brush!  Whoa…was that a …hill?!?” A two foot hill, maybe, but a hill nonetheless. Although, I shouldn’t be so hard on northwest Texas, because every now & then you drive through an exciting town. Ya know, it might even have a population of seven.
Colorado on the other hand had me kicking myself that I didn’t have Samson. He would have absolutely loved the roads & scenery. For a while, we paralleled the Arkansas River, and got to watch all the white-water rafters with their “Oh my God, I’m going to die!!!!!” faces on. We finally reached Salida, CO & obtained maps of the area & discovered there was a burn ban. Gas stoves come in handy.
We found a place to camp for the first night & of course, no sooner did we get there & get the gear out, it started raining. A couple tents went up in no time flat & we waited it out. It didn’t last long. We got out food to eat & had a solemn funeral service for the spilled Gatorade powder. Actually, we didn’t, but I tried to salvage it with more or less success.
The next day, we packed up & drove to a trailhead, so we could backpack in to find a good place to stay for a few days. This was when I figured out that altitude really does mean less oxygen, and less oxygen means harder to breath, and harder to breathe means harder to hike. At one point a concerned individual in better shape than I asked how I was doing. “*gasp* I’m *puff* fine *wheeze* really.” We all know that fine stands for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional, right? Ok, yep, I’m fine. Really.
We hiked to a nice, clear stream & found a secluded spot to set up camp. After doing my best efforts to clear a spot for the tent, the evil ground sprouted stones that grew into rocks by the time I went to bed. By morning, they had matured into gigantic, lumpy boulders right under my back. I moved the tent & dug them out, but by that time, they had magically shrunk back into little stones. Deceptive little buggers, let me tell you.
As mentioned before, we were camping right next to a stream. It was clear, cold, and rather harmless looking. A couple of us reasoned that there was nothing upstream but acres of CO forest, so we drank it straight instead of purifying it. Most the others scrutinized us closely for 24 hours, and after seeing that we didn’t die, or keel over from random sickness, they too decided that it was safe to drink. I guess I could have been a cup-bearer in ages past. So exciting. Note: After researching water-borne illnesses later, we discovered that there are usually no symptoms for seven to ten days after. Oh well. We are all still alive as far as I know. Well, I know I am. Yep, I’m FINE.
Anyways…we hung out for a few days and took day hikes, and generally did as we pleased. On the fourth of July, we hiked a couple miles to a place where we could get a good view of the town & watched a couple good firework displays. It was really something to see. We hiked back, actually, they hiked, I mostly stumbled back in the dark. I might have tripped a few times & hit my shins on a few logs, but I made it. Maybe next time I will bring my flashlight. Just maybe.
After spending some time we packed up camp & drove/hiked to another spot, this one being close to the Mt. Elbert trailhead. This was a very exciting place to camp, first of all because there wasn’t a flat spot to be seen. We picked the flattest spot we could find, but like the stones growing, the ground would gradually tilt in the night until it was completely vertical, and I was smashed up against the side of the tent. But, of course, by morning it had returned to a gentle slope. It was a very interesting phenomenon. It was also exciting because every afternoon, the clouds would roll off Mt. Elbert & we would get rain. Oh, did I mention, I wasn’t sleeping in my leaky tent! No, I was sleeping in a different, albeit just as leaky tent. And, of course, we also got hail. Hail. On our tent. Fun. Not.
Oh, and we tried to hang our food in a bag somewhere out of reach of bears, but the only place to hang it was directly above our tent. The brilliance of some people. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too.
Believe it or not, the trip was neither lame nor completely miserable. Mt. Elbert was the real reason for the Colorado trip. At 14,400 feet, Mt Elbert is the highest peak in the Rockies, second highest in the lower 48. It was my first 14er, actually, my first real mountain. In order to hike up & back safely, you have to start at about 2:00 in the morning, so you can be off the summit by the time the storms roll in. On the day that the group hiked it, I had a plainly miserable night & didn’t sleep at all. When they went to wake me, all that happened was a groggy voice: “Yeah, ya know, it hasn’t been a good night, I’m not going.” *Thinks to self: “I’ll solo hike it another day.”* Which I did. Except, it wasn’t a solo hike, Megan came with despite having just done it two days before. She’s a beast, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
We got up at 1:30, packed food & warm clothes & headed out. With this being her second time and my lungs going, “AHHH!!! That’s it!! We’re done! Strike for higher wages!!,”  I decided to take it easy. Despite “taking it easy” we summitted in 4 hours. Once the sun came up, we were well above the tree line, and the view was absolutely breathtaking. Talk about a mountaintop experience! I was definitely high on the awesomeness of it all. I kept stopping to take pictures of the scenery & alpine flowers, but the higher we got, the colder and windier it got, so we had to keep moving. By the way, that rocky thing that looks like the summit…well it’s only there to fool you. Once you get there and your legs are trying to tell you that they are never going to do anything for you again, you see the other rocky thing that is still not the summit. Yeah, you get the point.  
By the way, it was the first time I saw snow in July, and I kept thinking about working outside in the dead of summer when I was a kid & just wishing for a bucket of snow. Yeah, well this July I was freezing my butt off.
We were the first to summit, just ahead of a couple who got there while we were there. I took pictures between clouds, marveled at the view & exchanged Jolly Ranchers for a jack card in the in the geo cache box. It didn’t take long to pretty much completely freeze my butt off, so we headed back down. Actually, since I was freezing, it was closer to a jog, with my legs feeling rather like gummy worms.  Megan cursed me the whole way down, I think it had something to do with the length of my legs. As we descended, we passed tons of hikers on their way up who were all impressed that we were already on our way down. Like Bill Engvall would say, “I was finally cool for once in my life.” It got a lot warmer and I’m pretty sure I was still high, and possibly a little loopy.
About the time my legs decided they wanted a divorce, we reached camp, and after celebrating for half a minute, I crawled into the tent & proceeded to appear rather dead for a few hours. Then, I received a sudden burst of energy when I realized the others had gone to see a beaver dam & if I wanted to see it, I should go find them. The energy only really happened in the brain, though & did not transfer to the rest of the body. I swear it was the slowest hike of my life; I must have looked ridiculous ambling down the trail like a zombie. I found Megan & Whitney, and we went in search of the others. The only problem was, I understood that if I walked down the dam trail there would be a beaver dam in about half a mile. There was no beaver dam in half a mile, however there were about six dams three miles down the dam trail, with no familiar humans to be found. Right before my legs decided to run off without me, I discovered people I knew, and watched Helen swim in the dam water. It looked cold. Not like I’ve never jumped in cold water before.
We finally decided to head back, seeing as we had three miles to go & a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter could have made better time than me. Of course, about halfway back, we got caught in the rain & dove under a spruce tree to stay dry, where I promptly fell asleep. To be honest, I don’t remember the rest, but I did end up back at camp, where I proceeded to feel like an 80 year old for the next couple days.
We moved camp to a nice level, non rocky site in a stand of pines. The weather got rather cold at night, but beyond that it was splendid. At one point, I popped out of the tent, actually, I crawled out, I don’t really pop, just in time to see an elk just walking by.
On the day we hiked out it rained. Like, poured rain all day long. I might have been slightly happy to see the van. Just slightly. And I might have been even happier to have all-you-can-eat pizza and tons of ice-cream the next day. After all, withdrawal was getting pretty bad. But really, I was FINE.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life of a Woodsy-What-Not

After deserting Gracie in KY, I headed down to AR, where I prepared to head to the Ozarks to go backpacking & do other, you know…wilderness-ey things. Since Whitney makes a pretty decent side-kick, I decided to bring her along. Actually, I brought her because she brought the food which is somewhat…well…essential for surviving. We packed up everything we would need, & drove to the trailhead just in time to meet up with a nice thunderstorm. Now, I have experimented with various methods dealing with keeping all things dry, the best of which is DON’T GO TO THE WILDERNESS, however anything short of that is not guaranteed to keep anything dry. In fact, if you go backpacking with me, there is a guarantee that you will be wet, one way or another. 

Anyways, seeing as the weather was warm, the rain really didn’t bother us, we donned packs & headed down the trail, which had transformed into a full-fledged creek. We gave big, happy smiles to the macho dudes we passed who were headed the other direction toward the comfort of their car with “You people are crazy!” looks on their faces.  What can I say; nobody has ever accused me of being sane.  
Instead of heading to our previous base camp spot to set up my amazing, high-end, leaky, picked-up-for-free-because-someone-ditched-it tent, we decided to trek up a different creek to where there is a rock overhang that creates a dry spot. The dry spot we found, the dry wood we had stock-piled we did not find. Attention to whoever stole the wood: I will catch you. And when I do, I will dunk you in water & then force-feed you peanut butter & jelly and cold ramen noodles. For a week. Oh, and then I will turn you over to Whitney.
Of course, the storm did not pass quickly; it rained for a couple days. Enough, in fact, for the water to work its way down through our ceiling & turn our dry spot into a soaking wet, constantly dripping cave. It was depressing.  It did not take long for all of our gear and clothes to range from moderately damp to just-pulled-out-of-a-swimming-pool wet. Did I mention it was depressing?
And then one morning, we woke up & it had stopped raining. Actually, I didn’t notice at first because our “cave” was still dripping, but it was true. The sun was shining. We packed up all our water-logged gear & moved camp. I am convinced my pack alone weighed 247 pounds. At least. After spreading the stuff out to dry in a sunny spot, I grabbed an empty pack & made a food run to the vehicle. The hike out & back was rather uneventful except for the horde of bloodsucking mosquitoes. They were really quite bad.
When I returned, Whitney told me about a group of very lost Muslim city dudes who stumbled into our camp & entertained her for about an hour by trying to convert her to Islam. After all, it is the religion with all the answers, don’t you know? I am personally not too wild about dying & going to heaven where I can be eternally pregnant. Nah, not really that appealing.  Anyways...the Muslims were unsuccessful at getting Whitney to walk the straight & narrow, but she was able to point them down the right trail so they could (hopefully) reach their destination.  
The weather stayed decent for the rest of the trip, and the tent was stocked for a while with oatmeal, ramen &…*surprise*…peanut butter & jelly. Yay. No, really, I like peanut butter & jelly, it’s just, well when you eat it every day for three weeks, it can get old. We also brought pancake mix, which we spilled one night. I say “we spilled” because I don’t remember who was responsible, and if I blame it on Whitney, she might take issue with that. Either way, it spilled and I discovered that it tasted rather good, and proceeded to eat the uncontaminated stuff. Whitney called it PCB (short for pancake batter) and accused me of snorting it. We discussed how much harder the Muslims would pray for our souls if they could see us with a pile of white powder in our tent. For the record, scrambled pancakes over a fire are the best ever…as long as they aren’t burnt. Well, basically, as long as I don’t help make them.  
We also brought instant pistachio pudding, which is made by just adding milk. Well, there is no milk in the wilderness, so we decided to experiment & see if it would set up with just water. It did not. It just stayed in syrup form & looked very similar to anti-freeze. Not being ones to let anything with sugar in it go to waste, we drank it & I must add, stayed warm all night. For the record, it tasted much better than antifreeze. Grandma, I know you’re reading this, don’t ask how I know this.
Besides experimenting with food, we spent our time taking day hikes, exploring new territory, swimming in the creek, and waging a constant battle with the all-too-friendly local residents, i.e. the mosquitoes & ticks. Needless to say, “Ticks” by Brad Paisley was constantly playing in my head.  
Gracie planned to come join the madness, so we made our next food run to coincide with her arrival. We hiked out & while waiting for her to arrive, found a rather large wild strawberry patch. It was quite amazing.  She finally showed up, having ridden all over creation looking for the trailhead, poor soul. She brought Doritos, Oreos, and Mountain Dew. Did I ever mention she’s awesome? Probably not & I will probably never admit it again on record, so there it is.
One day, I took Gracie to see the 200’ waterfall at Hemmed-In Hollow. By the way, if you are interested in seeing it & need a guide, I am for hire. Remember, nobody loves you…and your money… more than me. Anyways, we happened to go on a Saturday, which meant that everyone and their neighbor’s dog had decided to go too. The trail goes by the Buffalo River & it was apparent that everyone else & their neighbor were floating the river. Or rather, attempting to float, some of them were actively sinking. We passed lots of people coming from the falls who smiled & tried to encourage us by telling us we were close. “Yes, dumb heads, I know.” But, this was the South & you don’t actually tell people that. You just think it while you smile & nod.
We arrived at the fall to discover several people ooohhhing & aaaahhhhing & taking pictures, so we climbed up the hollow behind the fall & sat there doing random stuff in the background of the people’s pictures. Poor souls. When all the people had left, we paid the water a visit…with more or less clothes on. By the time we were ready to hike back, our drinking water was almost gone & Gracie was envying all the hikers carrying ice-cold Cokes. We decided to take a different route back & hike along the river in hopes of bumming free drinks off of innocent paddlers. Upon arriving at the river, we discovered a temporarily abandoned canoe and a cooler containing our choice of water, coke, or beer. However, since I still pretend to retain my morals, and it’s much more fun to talk people out of stuff than to just pick it up for free, we passed on. Next stop, a relatively venerable looking man and male offspring sipping beer and sitting on a rock. We struck up a conversation & discovered that they had nothing to offer us, so we left. Of course, we assured them that we were really quite fine & it is perfectly normal for us to not know the date and hike around all day with no water left.
On up the river, we happened upon a group of drunk people in beached canoes playing a drinking game, so we stopped & watched. A very drunk woman attempted to splash a drunk man & ended up hitting Gracie instead. The man insisted Gracie splash her back, but instead she asked for drinks. The man in charge of the cooler just sat there in a stupor & shrugged his shoulders, so we were on our way with free drinks, which we were very sedate about until we were out of sight, where we wildly celebrated our success.
We went back to the river later with Whitney to go cliff jumping. Gracie & I sat at the top and chickened for a good half hour, discussing how the water did not look deep enough & the river bottom was solid rock. Meanwhile, Whitney cleaned out the wild blueberry patch and climbed on the rocks. Finally, Gracie mentioned that the first one off would have bragging rights, and I was off in no time flat. The water was plenty deep and we laughed at how long we had sat there.
One afternoon, Gracie was talking about food she was craving. Bad plan. We were both in the mood for pizza, and since I am so easily talked into doing crazy things, I decided to go get some. First, I had to hike out; it is only 2-3 miles out to the trailhead, but it is a very steep UPHILL the whole way. I was making great progress until suddenly my stomach decided it hated my guts. Technically, I suppose my stomach is part of my guts, but either way, it was not impressed with life. I decided there would be no pizza & just sat there on the trail. But as fast as it came, it left & I made another attempt at hiking out. I reached the vehicle & drove to the nearest town big enough to have a pizza shop. I thought it was about ten miles, but it turned out to be twenty, of course. By the time I pulled into town, it was 8:00 & the two pizza shops were closed. Not to be outdone, I found a gas station that made fresh pizza & ordered three. The pizza maker gave me odd looks, apparently he hadn’t seen many people who just spent 2 ½ weeks in the wilderness and are now desperately trying to get a pizza fix.
By the time the pizzas were made & I drove back, it was pitch dark. I momentarily contemplated eating all the pizza myself on the spot, but then I envisioned myself being thrown out of the tent & fed to the mosquitoes later that night. I put the liter of coke I bought in my backpack, stuck a headlamp on my head, grabbed the three pizza boxes in my arms & headed down the trail as fast as the terrain would let me. I came upon a doe who startled at first, then followed me. Apparently it had never seen pizza delivery in the middle of the night in the wilderness. I finally made it to camp, with the pizza still intact I might add, and found Whitney & Gracie completely bored & starving.
Oh, and just so you know, if I ever do anything crazy for you, I will hold it over your head for the rest of your life. Well… ok…for at least a couple of days.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Life at home 2.0

I realize this blog post is a little late. Never mind, it is very late. Excuse me, I have been busy living my life. I hope you have been busy living yours…if you have spent all your time on the internet waiting for me to write, I’m sorry. I recommend that you go find a psychiatrist.
 I ended up spending more time at home than I expected to. Mostly because Mom’s greatest fear came true: I did not have enough money to leave again.  So I spent all my extra time looking for & working odd jobs: pruning an apple orchard, planting a garden, landscaping, etc. Thank you, my thumb happens to be rather green.
It just so happened that I was home for my birthday. Rosie got me malted milk eggs left over from Easter, which she hid in the yard & told me I would get no hints. However, I barely started looking & she practically told me where they were. I guess that’s “no hints” to a seven-year-old. Humph.
That evening, half the family was home & Dad declared that he was ready to party. I decided we should kick off the night with Lady Gaga at a volume level that half the neighborhood could hear. Carrie, Rosie & I looked completely demented as we performed the zombie dance, which Carrie invented at my cousin’s wedding. It is pretty much the only kind of dancing I can do, mostly because I have great talent in acting demented.  Then the music turned to greater & grander things, namely ZZ Top. That was when Dad decided that Rosie’s stick horse would make an excellent guitar, and proceeded to jam on it. Mom joined him as the lead singer, using a different end of a different stick horse as a microphone. Then Sam came home & announced that the music could be heard when he turned onto our road. He joined the party by getting his fox out, putting sunglasses on it & slow dancing with it.  At one point, we all tried to look like we were dancing an Irish jig, but mostly we just jumped around with our hands on our hips. Yep, it was a splendid birthday party. Oh, and the subwoofer just might have fallen off the shelf from being turned up too loud, but there is no proof.

Rosie rocking the stick horse. I really think she has talent.
Several nights later, Dad was burning a massive brush pile. Massive bonfires call for massive tribal dances, don’t you think? Well, at least Carrie agreed with me. We then bribed Aaron into dancing, got Sam to drum on a 5-gallon bucket & Mom got her face painted with black soot. By the end of the night, we were all fighting over the Hannah Montana wig & smoking grapevine. I have no idea what Hannah Montana has to do with tribal dancing, and for your information, grapevine really doesn’t make you high. Really. I am able to act high all on my own.
I finally amassed enough money to leave again, due in part to the fact that I sold Calvin. Yes, sadness, I know…I made a lot of memories with him, but I couldn’t afford to keep him & my bike: Samson. And, since the weather was warm, well…I guess I should admit… I was partial to Samson. Either way, I spent the next couple days alternating between being thrilled about my current wealth & being depressed about selling Calvin.
Even with enough money, leaving did not happen immediately, mostly because Gracie rode up on her bike & was going to leave with me, and of course, she brought rain. Because she is Gracie.  So while we waited for the rain to clear, we just sat around & twiddled our thumbs, because that what we always do.
Things I learned while twiddling my thumbs:
 Ripping out ceilings make for great anger management, in fact I’m going to start a demolition & counseling program. “Here, rip this drywall to shreds while you talk about your problems. Or don’t talk, just rip, I promise you will feel better about your life.”
Don’t go to the Pagoda at 11:30 at night. It will be awkward.
Sometimes, people randomly rapture & leave half full bottles of American Honey at random locations.
When you get pulled over by an angry cop and have forgotten your driver’s license, try using your EMT card.
Anyways, just when we had all forgotten what the sun looked like & I had decided it would rain for the rest of my life, we got what appeared to be a break in the weather. We strapped our junk onto our bikes, said goodbye & left. A half hour later, we were riding through rain. Of course. Thankfully, it only lasted long enough for us to get all wet, then it stopped.
I was leading, Gracie following & it was going good until somewhere in West Virginia, when Gracie pulled around to the front & stopped on the side of the road to inform me that one of my saddlebags had blown off the back & nearly took her out. Pathetic.  I didn’t know saddlebags just unsnapped, unzippered and unattached themselves. Apparently mine do. We walked back to see if we could salvage anything, while I racked my brain trying to figure out what all I lost, therefore judging how depressed I should be. We found the bag completely pancaked & stuff strewn all over the interstate. Lovely. I had all my EMT equipment in it, plus some other odds & ends. I managed to salvage a few things & we had a heartfelt funeral for the rest. I did find a random charm necklace & put it on Samson for good luck.
Good luck it did not bring, because some miles down the road, my magic atlas blew off & shredded to bits. Humph. I was rather fond of it. Some miles further, my bike sputtered & died. I parked it on the shoulder & discovered that it was out of gas. Gracie & I took her bike to find a station. We stopped at a red light on the way, & I decided that with the current luck, the bike would probably not be big enough to trip the light & we would be eternally stuck at a red light. I decided to test my theory & bet five bucks on it. I lost the five bucks. Did I mention it was a splendid day? We arrived at the station, and discussed how I could buy a gas tank for $13.00, or go the illegal route by buying a gallon of water for $1.50 and using the jug. After choosing the best option, we filled up & rode back to my bike. Gas proved to be the answer to the problem & we were on our way once again.
At about 11:00 that night, with a couple hours to go until we reached our destination, we stopped to get gas & Gracie announced that I looked like I just woke up. Apparently, it is a bad plan to ride a bike in this condition. And, it was getting rather cold. We rode a few more miles, then hit a back road. We found a place to pull off and parked the bikes next to a random field, where we pitched a tent & slept for the night. Actually, we froze all night & slept when the sun came out in the morning. Anyways, it was epic.

The next day was gorgeous, I did not lose anymore stuff, the bikes did not sputter or die, and we finally reached our destination in KY, all in one piece. Always a plus, don’t you think?  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Life at Home, Part 1

Some things never change. Dad still insists on picking on me at every available opportunity. Sam still claims the couch that belongs to me. Folks, it is mine, Dad gave it to me before he gave it to Sam. Nate still works his butt off, Ben is still married to his car, Rosie still chats your ear off, Aaron is still fishing.

However, some things do change. For instance, Mom has a new hobby: mastering the art of french kissing, er...I mean cooking. French cooking. There is some confusion due to that fact that Sam changed the title on her cookbook. Carrie also has a new hobby: throwing food. I discovered this first hand by being beaned with a cherry tomato.

On the first Saturday that I was home, I went to the community Safety Day. It's basically this event hosted by the fire company where people can bring their kids to learn about the ambulance, fire company, police, 911, and other things having to do with not dying. Then, in the afternoon, there is a live accident scene demonstration. Last year at this event, they tipped an 18-wheeler onto a pick-up truck & I volunteered to be the dying, screaming person in the pickup. My mom played the hysterical mother and kept the firemen rather busy trying to keep her out of the way. I pretty much just layed there, covered  in fake blood, and alternated between all-out screaming & moaning random stuff at the unfortunate fireman who got sent in the truck to hold c-spine. They cut me out with the jaws of life, boarded & loaded me into the ambulance, where the EMT told me I had quite proven my lung capacity & should shut up now.

Anyways, this year we had a lovely wrecked Jetta & an overturned pickup, along with several more live victims. I was to be the one who was ejected from the pickup & landed on the hood of the Jetta, which I thought was just splendid. However...it so happened that it was raining, and the event coordinators canceled the demonstration. I decided to inform them that I was willing to lay out & scream my head off despite the rain. All the tough firemen really didn't want to get wet, but refusing would have severely damaged their macho-ness, seeing as none of them would be as wet as me, so they agreed to go ahead & do it. Upon appearing on scene, the fireman's first question was "Are you wet enough yet?" to which I replied, "AAAHHHH!!! My leg freakin' HURTS!!!!"

At one point, they tried to figure out how oriented I was by asking random questions.
"Do you know what day it is?"
"Who's the president?"
"AAAHHH! I hate the president!!!"
"Ok, let's not talk about that. I will give you a number to remember for when I ask you later. I want you to remember the number ten."
"AAAHHH!!! I hate that number!!!"
"Because that's how old my brother is!"
"Oh, I would hate it too in that case."

Obnoxious of me, I know. But, hey, I was just playing my part, and they had me boarded & loaded in record time so they could focus their attention on cutting out the quiet, polite, cooperative victims.

The next day it was still rather cold, though it quit raining. Sam came home from his night at work and announced to me that he drove over the river and noticed that it was...well, rather swollen. Flood stage, actually. Now, I am aware that everyone in the world would draw the obvious conclusion that we did: Time to go canoeing! Sam is amazing in a canoe and he & I have wanted to canoe the river at flood stage for some time, so it was the perfect opportunity.

We loaded up & drove to the exiting point to drop off a vehicle. This is where I got my first glimpse of the river. It had overflowed it's banks & looked rather like chocolate milk. Yep. I believe this was when the adrenaline high kicked in, and Sam & I became prime candidates for Adrenaline Junkies Anonymous. Except that there is no such thing because nobody ever wants to be cured. Anyways, somehow Sam struck up a conversation with an older, wiser-looking dude who was strolling the banks. Upon hearing that we were going to float it, he declared that it was perfect for that. See, we got a second opinion. Never mind that he was a rafter, had never been in a canoe & did not know that's what we were going to float in.

 We drove upstream & managed to get the canoe afloat despite the fast water & all the trees in the river that had previously been next to the river. Once on the water, we pretty much just spent all our time steering, and talking about how fast we were going; we were covering ground at record speed without paddling. We also discussed our upcoming death at the bridge & again at the big rapids, and about whether or not we would be able to actually beach the canoe at the exit spot, or if we would just continue all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Oh, and we also did a lot of hooping & hollering. We managed to keep the canoe in an upright position & maneuver around all the obstacles up to the point of the bridge. This bridge is a railroad bridge that crosses the river. There are stone pillars which the water flows between, but you have to be careful because only a couple are passable. Also, once you get through, there is a couple-foot drop that needs to be negotiated. As we approached, we noticed much to our delight the presence of about 50 people out for a Sunday stroll, who just so happened to be on the bridge. Of course, they were all gathering, cameras in hand to witness the death of the insane people in the canoe. We did more hooping & hollering & I knelt down, mostly to lower the center of gravity, but I also might have been praying. We made it through the bridge with out incident & our audience gave us an applause, but in no time flat we around the next bend. Unfortunately, we didn't have an audience for the big rapids. I have no idea what they would have been classified as, but they were pretty awesome. Somehow, we came out the other side upright & intact. I have no idea how. We also managed to beach...at the exit point, no less. Thank you, the applause sign is illuminated, however, don't try this at home. Actually, just don't try it unless you have Sam along. Needless to say, we spent a few minutes in wild celebration. Too bad the rafter dude didn't hang out all day.

Now, I suppose I should be completely honest & say that less then a week later Sam & I canoed the exact same stretch of river, with a normal water level. This time, we didn't have an audience at the bridge, and when we went through & went over the drop, for some reason the front of the canoe dove into the water & we were filled about half full. Of course, that made us very unstable, so we tried our hardest to do the balancing act, but we were soon in the water. We just stayed there & laughed our heads off at the ridiculousness of the situation before we hauled the canoe out & emptied it.
One night, I took Rosie on a night hike. She loves night hikes. She was holding my hand and when we got to the dark part of the woods, I could definitely tell she was freaked out. She told me, "The woods are really freaky!" I asked her why she liked night hikes, she said, "Because they are fun!" I asked if she liked being scared and she replied, "Yeah, it's realllllly adventurous!" You go girl. We also discussed the moon & she asked me about the difference between the "hot dog" moon & the "hamburger" moon. I love the way kids minds work. Then she asked me, "How can people like Nathan spit so far?" I told her that he was bigger, had a more powerful spitting mouth & lots of practice. She proceeded to practice proper spitting for the rest of the hike. Maybe, just maybe she will grow out of it by the time she turns 18. And then again, maybe she will be a champion spitter by then.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How I got to be this way.

I suppose it's that time of year. Ya know, when everybody suddenly remembers how amazing their mother is. It's the one day of the year that people realize..."Oh my word! I appreciate my mom! I think I shall express it by buying flowers & giving them to her."

Well, I think you should all be aware that I appreciate my mom. I appreciate all the normal mom things she did, like making food for me, washing my clothes, and attempting to raise me on the straight & narrow. However, in case you didn't know and couldn't guess, my mother is not a typical mother, and I also appreciate this. This is my excuse for doing insane things in life, I think it is a rather good one. Anyways, back to my mom. She's a unique, awesome brand of not normal. She rides motorcycle, hunts deer & insults her kids constantly, among other things. Here's a little of what I get to deal with on a regular basis:

Mom calling me while I was on the road: "I can't wait for you to come home, we're gonna make monster cookies!"
Me: "Monster cookies?"
Mom: "Yeah, we're gonna press your face in dough!"

"I'm not worried about you having enough money to come home, I'm worried about you having enough money to leave again."

 At home, after I woke up & walked into the kitchen: "Um, dear, I'm really sorry...but that beauty sleep really isn't working out for you."

"Dear, when are you leaving again? I would like to fund your absence."

*Takes off glasses* "Oh, you are a lovely-er sight without the glasses."

"I hate kids! I hate them!!!!!"

Me: "Mom, I was born this way"
Mom: "Hmm...I thought maybe that's what happened."

Some nice, polite person to me: "How long were you away? "
Mom: "Not long enough!"

"I have decided to turn a new leaf. For the first half of my life, I have been un-emotional, so for the rest of it, I'm going to be an emotional wreck." *breaks down sobbing*

After I informed Mom that a friend's mother wanted to meet her: "What did you tell her about me?"
Me: "Only true things, Mom."
Mom: "STOP TELLING PEOPLE TRUE THINGS ABOUT ME! Seriously, though, that's fine...I'm not ashamed of who I am."

Me: "Mom, you should be aware that I am saving up quotes from you to post on the world-wide-web on Mother's Day."
Mom: "Oh, you look lovely today, absolutely lovely!"

And last but not least... my all-time favorite:

Me: "Can I go to the store with you?"
Mom: "Sure, as long as you stay 20 feet away from me at all times, and not say embarrasing things like 'Hey, Mom!'"

Yep, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind about how I got to be this way.

I love you, Mom! You are the best-est ever! I mean...who else can brag that their bike got totaled by their mom?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tell the world I'm coming home

So, I was headed for Mississippi, to Uncle Goody & Aunt Francis's place to help them out for a couple days. They moved down from PA about 16 years ago, but they still retained their very thick, PA Dutch accents. I love listening to it. Especially when they are talking to someone with a deep southern twang. It is hilarious.
Goody: "Vell, now, these people down here, vell they call us da Germans. They vant to know how long ve been in the United States. Haha!"

I got there in the evening, and no sooner was I through the door, and Francis was feeding me. She's a good cook & loves to feed people. The whole time I was there, it didn't matter how much I ate, I obviously hadn't eaten enough. Because, don't you know...I was thinner than the last time she saw me. She also has this thing about putting as many different kinds of food on the table as possible. One day at lunch, I counted 8 different kinds of food, not counting dessert, which she apologized for because she only had ice-cream & pudding. Well, ok then. Apology accepted.

A couple days after I got there, my dad came down with Steve & Kale and spent some time. When we heard their truck pull in, Goody remarked, "Vell, there goes da peace & quiet." He couldn't have been more right, because for the next day & a half, people where talking non-stop, Goody keeping up with the best of them. I'm convinced that half the time, nobody was listening to anyone else, because everybody was talking about something, all at the same time. I just listened to whoever was most interesting at the moment, and when nobody was interesting, I mowed grass. The ADD in me was happy.

On Sunday, we headed to the Mississippi delta region, to cousin Jackie's, to help raise a barn. I mostly just dug holes- we had to dig 18 of them by hand, which we did in a mere couple of hours...without hitting a single rock. Shocking. I also learning that if you spit on your hands before you use a shovel, you will not get blisters. Disgusting. I got blisters. We managed to get the foundation form ready for concrete before breaking for supper, where I proceeded to out-eat everybody. Aunt Francis must be getting through to me.

That evening, Jackie decided to show Dad & I around the levy, so we headed out on a couple of four-wheelers, Jackie & Dad on one & me & Callie on another. We rode out on the levy for a few miles, then headed on some trails to the river. We got there just as the sun was setting, and watched a few barges. It was lovely. When it started getting dark, we started getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, so we decided to head back. We went a grand total of 100 yards and Jackie sunk the four-wheeler in a mud hole. Like really sunk. Like mud-above-the-axles-sunk. And Mississippi mud is nasty- it's like a cross between peanut butter & wet tar.

After thinking positive thoughts in the general direction of the four-wheeler & peanut-tar hole, and realizing that it didn't help, we stood there and laughed our heads off. Actually, it was mostly Callie & I that were laughing. We then proceeded to squish all 4 of us onto the un-stuck four-wheeler, and head back. We grabbed a rope & shovel & headed back to the peanut-tar hole. Dad made a very heroic effort to dig around the four-wheeler. The peanut tar was not satisfied with the four-wheeler & tried to eat Dad & the shovel as well. Finally, he gave up on digging & and we tied the rope to it & pulled with the other four-wheeler. I prepared to push from the back, and I must admit I did not expect the peanut-tar to give up easily, so I pushed with my whole body. Well, it just so happened that the four-wheeler popped out with surprising speed, leaving me to nearly face-plant in the hole. Notice...I said nearly. My foot went up & my head went down, but I managed to catch myself mere inches from having a face full of peanut-tar. Oh, I should mention that I happened to be wearing white sneakers, because I left all 3 pairs of my boots in TX accidentally. Needless to say, after this, the sneakers no longer resembled anything close to white.

The next day, Dad, Calvin & I left to head homeward. It was a splendid drive... we solved all the world's problems, fought over what kind of music got played, and stopped to visit Merriweather Lewis's grave. We arrived in Nashville that evening, and stopped to see Damar. He took us to The Old Spaghetti Factory, and showed us around downtown Nashville. Random country songs where playing continuously in my head. Dad & I really wanted to go honky-tonk hopping, but it was pouring down rain; he didn't feel like getting wet & I didn't feel like getting cold. We spent the night north of Nashville, and were on our way the next morning.

We stopped for a few hours at the insane asylum in KY, where four of my friends currently reside. I should probably be admitted as well, but I prefer to wander the country, spreading insanity far & wide. Either way, it was nice to see them. I discovered that just because Naomi claims to be living in silence doesn't really mean there is anything silent about it. We also established that Janelle is going to hell in a hand basket, with me driving, but I think we already knew that.

We hung around until all four of them deserted me to go to work (humph...responsible friends), then Dad & I hit the road...managing to make it home that night.