Sunday, December 20, 2009
I had high hopes for Reno. I think I was looking forward to this part of the journey more than anything else. We had made reservations at Circus Circus, and it was going to be this great big fun fest in "the Biggest Little City in the World".
And I don't know what happened, but it didn't happen like it was supposed to. The drive there was not terrible, but maybe because we had stopped to grab some geocaches along the way, it took longer than it should have, and we were all a little grubby, hungry, and tired when we got there. The whole finding the parking spot, checking in, unloading the luggage, and getting up to our rooms in the face of so much temptation (in the form of glittering lights and games for the kids) was grueling. Then there was showering and getting ready for a dinner our bellies were ready for hours ago (didn't see any Taco Times along the way this time!).
Try taking two young kids who don't listen very well to a huge buffet, agreeing to a plan with your husband, only to find him not listening to the plan very well (go figure) and losing absolute control over the dinner table. That was a nice start to the evening.
Circus Circus was our choice because of the great big Midway for the kids, which was crowded and boy, was that a challenge to keep up with everyone in there when we made our way down after the buffet. The kids were super stoked and running all over the place, and I kept losing my husband and/or one or two of the kids, and eventually my frigging mind.
It was time to calm the kids down and get them ready for bed. Good luck for that at a casino hotel! The husband took the money and ran...down to the casino, and left me in charge of the kids, which was a bad idea. I was way too tired and they were way too excited, and this is how that scene unfolded: the phone rings sometime close to midnight, and the front desk is on the other end of the line saying, "Are your children disturbing the other guests?"
How am I supposed to know? "It's possible," I said, "They are disturbing ME!"
Apparently there were two complaints to the front desk about the noise in our room. Butts were kicked and kids were shoved under covers with the threat of death if they made a peep, and when the husband showed back up, $20 richer, I made him give me that and then some so I could go let out my frustration by pulling some levers on the slot machines.
And girl can't get a break. He told me the waitresses would come by and offer you free drinks, but yeah, that didn't happen. I had to chase down one haggard waitress to get a cocktail an hour into it, and I stayed up too late feeding all my money to the nickel slots, slowly....
Anyway, I had these big plans for the morning, back when I was dreaming about this trip, about how I wanted to go find my childhood idol's grave, and read the poem I wrote in tribute for her (the one at the bottom of this blog), leave some flowers, say some words to her spirit. I wanted to cache my way out of Nevada, and all the way south.
It didn't happen like that, either. The town is kind of confusing to me, doesn't seem like the map at all, and I had lost all sense of direction and specifically where we needed to go to get to the cemetary where Mrs Velma Johnston is buried, and, I didn't feel like it anyways anymore. We were all tired, and got a late start, were fairly grumpy and discombulated, and just wanted to get out of town....
Long way down the most congested road I could have found to get us out, and finally we were free...stopped at Virginia City to not find a cache that should have been easy, and wasted too much time here by this big prospector searching in vain for a Golden Nugget that was too elusive for us, only to end up spending too much money in the nearby candy outlet on sweets these hyper children did not need....
That day was probably the worst of our road trip. Part of my disappointment lay in the fact that I hadn't planned very well for this part of the road trip, geocaching wise. I had been counting on the fact that we were going to have the laptop with us, and I would be able to load a Pocket Query from the road to have caches in my GPS unit to find. We ended up not bringing it, and I had only a sparse amount loaded as a precautionary measure. As a result of this, I missed some caches, lots of them, that I could easily have done. We also spent way too much time going after a planned cache that turned out to be too rugged for us, vehicle and/or hike wise, a fact we realized after spending an hour or two in the efforts.
The day after Reno ended on a sour note as we passed up several decent looking hotels, in the interest of making such good time, and then had to settle for the only thing we could find at the end of a long day of driving. It was the worse motel I have ever stayed in, seriously. I was so disgusted, and made everyone sleep ready to roll at a moment's notice because I was completely convinced there were bed bugs that would attack us as soon as we went to sleep and leave festering wounds on the children. I did not sleep well that night. That part of the journey was really bad, but we got to see some fabulous sites along the way, too. More on that later.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Tried confronting it head on. It's ignoring me. We'll see where that takes us.
And, speaking of tuned...don't look at those comments on the past few entries. I am fairly sure at least one of them is a virus bot. Only bots leaving comments these days....
Maybe my friends don't want to talk about the elephant either.....
Sunday, December 06, 2009
My sister in law, Crystal, lives in the middle of nowhere. There is no internet, no Zynga games, no malls or shops or social events. There is cows and hay and mountains, trees and rocks and grass. And sometimes an unlucky bug or two....
This day, meaning one of the two days back in August we were visiting her, her man Danny had caught a black widow spider and was keeping it in a jar in the kitchen until he figured out what to do with it. He mentioned this to us in the morning, and the thought lingered.
Midmorning, we were sitting outside watching the kids play, and watching the wasps fly in and out of a nest by the carport, and the men came up with an idea. These were some bad, nasty wasps. Someone said it, "I wonder who would win in a fight between one of those wasps, and the black widow?" And it was on.....
The trick was in catching one of the darn things without getting stung, a task the men gladly engaged in. Then there was the struggle to get it in the jar with the spider without anyone getting hurt. Once those objectives were met, we sat back and watched the action. There was much talk about who the winner would be, but no one was very sure. For a long time, it was impossible to know. The fight to the death lasted about three hours, with kids alternating between watching attentively, and wandering off to play. Us grownups were transfixed.
Even though in my heart I felt like it was somewhat sad and cruel, my scientific curiousity got the better of me. They went back and forth, with each one holding the advantage shortly, then the other one taking it back. The spider injected venom, but the wasp had its stinger handy. The last ten minutes were valiant.
And if you want to know who won......ask me next time you see me......
Friday, November 20, 2009
We passed it up, and kept going. I considered what else was out there. I wish I knew how to put in here what my "geocache map" looks like for this area. Even better, I would like to have a topography map when I get out in that National Forest. I get out there and then I get confused about which tiny forest road takes us closer to the caches, roads unmarked and unpaved.
And we finally did.
The first picture is the view from the top. This is the view from the bottom. Kaleb was resting, and it was too rough for him, so AJ and Ted went up the rock formation looking for a traditional sized cache. They are the blue and white specks on the upper left. I suspected I knew where the cache was hidden, and they were not moving towards that area, but I was watching Kaleb and it was pointless to yell or point from that distance. Eventually, they came down, and I headed up, straight to where my "geosense" was leading me. This would be the rock formation on the top middle-right. Once I got close, I had to climb and shimmy up the rock face, but I found it, the elusive ammo can! It was full of goodies, but no travel bugs. I left a geocoin - one of my personal ones, which then got grabbed by another cacher before I could log it in the cache to record its starting point, which was frustrating to me, but I didn't make an issue of it when I found out later.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Collecting You (by the Indigo Girls...of course)
I could paint you in the dark
Cause I've studied you with hunger like a work of art
These are very secret days
I collect my information then I stowe it all away
Call me when you breeze through to your appointments
The work you do
Call me, I'm collecting you
The pleading prayer and hairshirt sting
My hair-trigger love and faulty spring
Motivation smokes a name, but I don't like that smell applied to me so
Blindly just the same call me
When you breeze through to your appointments the work you do
Call me I'm collecting you
Turning up my collar to an unseasonal chill you ask a favor, you know I will
The rain comes a surprise we fly across the railroad ties
I feel the danger the foolish thrill oh yes I will
What it will or won't be then
The shutter pre development the ink full in the pen
Mind the mind's eye's trickery
You might picture killer beautiful much more than it might be
Call me tell me what you're up to what you'll do
Call me I'm collecting you
I would be foolish to think that I could turn it off and stay alive
The way I live when you switch on hand on the dimmer, give me just a glimmer
Give me just a shadow hope around the edges, agony and rapture forever uncaptured
Take these secrets to your grave
Drug across your landscape and buried in your cave
You're piling up and out of sight
But trying to add it up just feels like counting shades of light
Call me when you breeze through to your appointments what you must do
Call me I'm collecting you
Hang it in my window let it complicate my view
The separation the glass of you
But I can paint this picture any way that I see fit
The art of pain the subject sits unmoved
Friday, November 06, 2009
We were driving along a forest road in Northern California, one that started wide and smooth and got continually rougher the deeper we went into the mountain. We were going after a geocache, just the husband and I together on a brief respite from children, who were with their "honey" - his mom. This road was somewhat familiar, we had come up it many times but always got a little lost when the road became more treacherous, and somewhat vague. We luckily caught all the right turns this time, and not too far up or dangerous, the coords led us to a parking spot in a clearing, here. It was so nice here that we spent a little while just resting and absorbing. In some ways, I think I could stay here forever.....or maybe visit often.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Ever have that feeling you want to skip right to the end?
Found this herd roadside and had to stop for pics.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
That darn blanket. I meant to pack both of the boys' fleece blankets, but somehow ended up with only one in the suitcase. Which meant they fought over this one the whole trip. Which is somehow easier than just sharing it, for them.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
I love the newest Indigo Girls album, but this song in particular. It reminds me of my family right now, in particular a conversation I had some months ago with my father. It especially reminds me of my parents, but maybe all of us in some way....
Sunday, October 04, 2009
A strange thing happened in Idaho. It was not unplanned, but there were some surprising insights gained from these events.
When we had really started planning our route that covered a tremendous 3500 miles across the Pacific Northwest in a two week time span, destination Oregon via St George, Utah, I had noticed that one path we could take would put us within breathing distance of two people I had not seen in a very long time. So I made contact, and plans to meet up, with an old friend in Boise and an old boss in Nampa.
I really didn't think much of it at the time, just that I was excited to see these people I had not seen in a long, long time. L and I met through my best friend, J, back in the nineties, and I had always really liked her. She kind of knew me "before", though, before all this life changing shit happened to me and I became a person I don't know that I would have recognized. Physically, I am somewhat the same - several old friends remark when they see me that I look exactly the same as I did in high school - but there are so many changes inside my soul and, in my perception, to my youthful looks, that I rarely feel like that person L probably knew in the day.
L herself has changed a lot since I had made friends with her, as well, but even though her appearance seemed to have changed drastically, I recognized her readily when she arrived at the park we agreed to meet at in Boise. I don't even know that talking to her, I recognized either one of the people we used to be in the conversation, except in the parallel care and concerns we had for our shared mutual friends. My mind was sparked by talking to her, though, and I really enjoyed it and didn't want it to end. However, the boys were restless, and we spent probably less than an hour with her, though I probably could have spent the whole weekend getting to know her again.
Then, we went to Nampa, and spent an unexpected THREE hours with my old boss. None of us antipicated this visit would run so long (I had been promising T only half an hour before we could get back on the road, since he was anxious to get to his mom's this night). However, neither of us made a push to get going once we got there, and K slept through the entire visit. Part of this was because Shauna (the old boss) and her partner Mark are just some of the most darned interesting people you will ever met. Shauna is industrious and intelligent, and Mark is laid back and always curious about other people.
I worked for Shauna during the "after", during some really hard years in my life (I think it was exactly two years I was in her employ), and during some years that were difficult for her, too, in my opinion. At the time, she had been trying to keep her alternative health practice for animals afloat in a tiny agricultural town with a dozen other vets, and she had recently lost a business partner and lover, and a trusted friend and office manager who had screwed her over. During the time I worked for her, she had started dating Mark, and at the very end of our working relationship, had a child with him, who was a baby last time I saw him. Now their son was a vibrant, smart young child with many interests and talents, although he was very busy when we saw them.
Shauna and Mark have been very busy and apparently successful since moving their businesses to Nampa. She works out of her home, showing me her the clinic they built in stages that now includes two exam rooms for pets, and another for horses, with a large reception area. They have renovated their home with extraordinary results, and grow their own vegetables and hay. Mark took Ted for a walk, and then Shauna took me, and showed us solutions they had tried for various irrigation and weed control techniques, and it was all very fascinating. They were both in amazing health and condition, and we enjoyed fresh, natural flavors at their house, in the strawberry lemonade Shauna whipped up, a fresh bunch of grapes, nuts, fruit. It was very nice.
And then we had to get on the road, and I thought about this past year, and how I have confronted many ghosts of friendships past in the last twelve months or so. I tried to apply the filter of their experience and wonder what they saw in me. It's been these two, and two months ago, a coworker from the zoo I worked at when I met Ted, and an old professor, a boyfriend or two from way in the past, so many people with their own perceptions of me, most of which I would never know. It is a funny feeling to keep plugging yourself into that time and place, that you who you were at that distinct moment in time, when you were just slightly askew of who you are now. It is all very heady and filled with mystery, the mystery being really who you are as a person in this world, which we tend to think is who we think we are, but is really the combinations of all these perceptions. Who you are has less to do with who you are but more with who they think you are, which is not necessarily the same.
And I think I have the answers to this, but then they swirl around me , questions draped in purple silk and opaque veils, because even though I know myself more than my friends seem to, I will never know what it is I don't know, and therefore can never really know myself. Like I have said before, you hear observations other people make, and you have your own perceptions, but you will never know the things that are left unsaid. Maybe those are the heart of it, the vulnerability that exists within a friendship. But the outside of a friendship is wrapped up in the things a person does say, and in this case, it was hey, I am coming through, and I want to see you. I am so glad these two women accepted, because they were so amazing to meet and spend time with again.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
She also offered a golden nugget of information that was the best advice we got on our whole journey. She told us about a place to stop along the road where we could get out, climb over the culvert, and take a hidden path up behind a waterfall. That was the most amazing thing. Water splashed down in front of us in a rumbling show of force, spraying us with mist as we walked along a cavernous trail to the other side of the falls and back again. We kept thinking there would be a geocache hidden back here, "and if there isn't, there should be, " says Ted, but we were three miles outside of my "pocket query" (a list of geocaches from a customized search), so I had no idea. We peeked behind the crevices just to see. After we were home, I looked at the map, and I am fairly certain there was not, but there were some in the park down at the base of the hill by the river that I could have gotten.
From the description, I thought this would be a fairly straight forward cache on the grounds of the Little America hotel. We parked in the hotel parking lot, but that was not really neccesary, turns out. The cache is actually out at the street level, ten feet from a major road, and very accessible, but awfully well hidden. It took me quite a few minutes to figure out where two large ammo cans would be hidden from everyone's view here.
I had this travel bug to drop off that was sort of special to me, War Bride and Soldier. This travel bug is in dedication to the women left behind in war, like myself.
The cache itself was a dedication to the troops overseas, in particular geocachers who are serving over in the Iraq War. As my husband was leaving for the war ten days after we returned from the trip, it was a "must-do" to find this cache before he left. As you can see, the War Bride travel bug fit the overall theme of the cache, and our trip, perfectly.
In one of hte ammo cans, there is a scrapbook of geocachers serving overseas, in their uniforms and doing the types of operations they conduct on their tour of duties. I am going to have to get Ted's pictures taken to submit for this scrapbook. It was a real honor. A miniature version of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle was attached to the lid of one of the boxes. I was disappointed not to find more travel items in the cache, but I think I traded mine for another. This cache has moved an amazing number (1015) of travel bugs/geocoins.
Then, onwards, we had to get out of Utah before it was too late to make it to Idaho this day.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
And GrandFather Caches
We were finally on the road, feeling the wind through our hair, making great time up the highway towards Salt Lake City. The rate we were going, we would be there by noon....so, we took a detour.
Now, I had been studying this area on the map for a long time. Specifically, I had been trying to figure out if we could get close enough to get a chance at some "grandfather" geocaches, some of the oldest caches hidden. I had been working on a list of the 100 oldest active geocaches, and had stumbled upon a few that weren't particularly too far from the highway we had to take on up to SLC, and on to Idaho.
August 8 by hardings (1620 found)This cache was so fabulous. I grew up loving stories of the old west, and being a horse lover, the Pony Express always interested me. We enjoyed the plaques along the way to this one, and the hike. Was a bit of a tough one for us Texans! Thanks for keeping this one going, it was incredibly awesome to find two grandfather caches today and we enjoyed the history. Left Red Jeep TB.
That was a fun hike, about 0.11 straight up a hill, with prickly desert plants all around. In retrospect, the terrain actually reminded me a lot of Austin. We spent a lot of time exploring the Pony Express station "remains" and plaques. Then we drove next to the Clover Springs camping area, which was about thirty minutes away, if I remember correctly. This time I went by myself to find the cache, which was only about 250 feet from available parking, albeit straight up and devilishly well hidden. Here is my log for that one:
August 8 by hardings (1620 found)We made a side trip just for this one. What an honor to get one of the grandfather caches! It was a short hike, but the uphill about did this Texan in. Actually walked right past it a few times, it was so well hidden, but just right there. Way cool. Thanks for keeping this one alive!
We had so much fun driving through this part of the state. I would recommend these caches to anyone, even those traveling with small children like we were. On the map, it looked like this area would be remote and inaccessible, but it really was not. It is such a pretty area. We had such a good time, but boy, were we famished by this point! (Damned ham sandwich story forthcoming). Luckily, the first town we pulled up into had a TACO TIME! in it - we brake for Taco Time. Turns out too many times on this trip. It's those crisp meat burritos that drive us wild....
-delay in blog posting due to any number of issues, which I hope to correct soon-
St George, Utah...Act 2, in which we ended up going to the Rosenbruch Wildlife Center
We stalked our quarry
Through the forest
While thunder boomed in the distance
and night darkened
Appear to come alive
Run, charge, eye to eye
Angle our weapon at them
Finger trigger presses down
And then that sound,
Sunday, September 06, 2009
We ended up taking a two day hiatus on our journey in the little town of St George. This stop was primarily the reason we planned such an extensive road trip, as T wanted to see his grandparents from his (step) dad's side of the family that he hadn't seen in the fifteen years since his dad died.
As much as our kids like dinosaurs, we learned from our visit here that they actually prefer to see life sized replicas of dinosaurs, and their bones, more than they are interested in their footprints and impressions. They especially don't have the patience to hear us read aloud from the information kiosks why the items we were looking at were unique. Frankly, their interest in the entire place lasted only about an hour, and mostly revolved around the videos playing in one room, the interactive display where they could "search" for dinosaur eggs, and the gift shop.
The best thing about going to this museum was that we earned another geocache find, a special one called an "earthcache", from answering a question about what other kinds of animals left tracks here. This answer was not readily apparent when we walked up, but something we had to keep an eye out for when looking at the exhibits.
I think I found the site more interesting than the children did, but they were very happy with a small token from the gift shop and ready to move on to the next sightseeing stop.