Wednesday, July 31, 2013

He's Baaaack ...

Cuzzin Jam Sesh
The night before My Teckie flew home from Kentucky, Benson and Cutie-Pie spent the night. We played basketball, guitars and watched The Peanuts Christmas DVD. Benson loves Snoopy. What's not to love?
To her surprise, she makes the shot!
Thankfully, Daniel was invited to the beach, so he did not have to drive to LAX. That is never a quick or easy drive. I went early and had lunch with my Aunt Dee. She lives by the airport and I haven't visited with her in some time. I love my Auntie! Two birds, one stone!
Dan missed out on trip to LAX to surf and play at the beach. Lucky!
Being at Auntie Dee's house was a blessing because although Teckie (barely) made his connecting flight in Chicago, his bags did not. So he had to wait another hour for the next flight to deliver them. I offered to come pick him up, but he was content waiting in that filthy baggage claim. The extra hour with my Aunt was well received. The "luggage set back" had us hopping on the 405 North at 4:30!
 Prime Traffic Time!
There was plenty of time to visit and catch up on the last week's happenings.

We made it home safely with no dings, scratches or tickets! So, I have NO true LA traffic Beef!

When we did arrive home, I had no idea the trove of treasures that he brought back. It was exciting to sit together on our patio as he unpacked many of his Dad's keepsakes from past decades. His Dad, the kids called Grandpa Fish, passed away three years ago. My Teckie hauled war memorabilia, among other things, that my mother-in-law passed down. She made the right choice, as Daniel, loves that sort of thing. It felt nostalgic to touch and hold his dog tags from the Vietnam War. I asked my husband how he felt about all his dad's stuff. I felt heavy hearted when he replied, "I wish we could have gone through this stuff together, when he was alive."
Duck Season. Rabbit Season. No, Duck Season!
  My father-in-law was an avid hunter. The kids loved the box of duck/bird calls that used to be Grandpa Fish's. Now, the birds in our backyard are thoroughly confused!  Daniel's favorite keepsake was Grandpa's deer hunting rifle (yea, more guns). That beast is intense!
Grandpa Fish's Dog Tags. If these things could talk, the stories they could tell.
While in Kentucky, My husband, fixed his Momma's grill and computer. They went to the movies, ate out, went to church and BBQ'd at home.  My mother-in-law and hubby hit up a book store. Lucas can't wait (joke) to get lost in the book his Dad picked out for him!
As for the book he brought me? I can't put it down. "The Best Joke Book Ever" has kept me smiling. I love plays on words and creative funny thoughts.  I don't see any reason why I shouldn't end this post with some favorites. And heck ... why not pass jokes along for the rest of the summer?  The book is packed with One Liners, Puns, Limericks, Jokes and The Things Kid Say.
Let's start with some Puns:
I sent ten different puns into a contest, hoping at least one would win.
Sadly, no pun in ten did.
 
A dyslexic man walks into a bra ...
 
The guy who feel into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
 
Khakis: what you need to start the car in Boston.
 
A pessimist's blood type is always B-negative
That's all for now, folks!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Full Throttle



 Lucas and Ty grabbed the front Full Throttle seats ... Crazy!
 
This summer Six Flags Magic Mountain went Full Throttle with another world-record coaster; the tallest, fasting looping roller coaster in the world. This unique-one-of-a-kind triple launch coaster takes the coaster experience to a new level with a world-record 160-foot loop ... plus a zero to 70 miles-per hour acceleration on two forward launches and one backward launch into and out of an underground tunnel.
 
.
It gave me vertigo to just watch this thing!

We were only in Magic Mountain about 30 minutes, and then rain started to fall. The kids were in line for the new ride "Full Throttle" and spent 20 minutes of the hour wait, when they closed the ride. What a bummer! Due to the short downpour many of the big attractions closed.
 
Kids have an endless supply of enthusiasm; despite the heat and lines

 Staying positive, we made our way through the park, holding the kids "stuff" while they waited. There was a lot of sitting around time for us Moms, which is just the way I like it!
My favorite ride at Magic Mountain. Rock sitting :)
 
Before long, the rain dried up and the rides reopened. Everyone was able to ride what they wanted, making the day a success. The part I liked best is that this is the LAST time I plan on going to Magic Mountain this year. My husband actually enjoys all the rides, but he was unable to go the last two trips. I was the lucky one to schlep around in the heat, buying churros and holding soda cups and hats.
 

Friday, July 26, 2013

21,120 Feet

I rode Blanche four miles yesterday.  And , I did the same the day before we left on our road trip, weeks ago. Neither time was easy. Usually, riding my unicycle many miles is awesome because I "check out" mentally and don't have to "think about balance." It's natural and easy. I  get lost in music and absorb all the gorgeous scenery and life I pass by.

Let's be real.

Today, riding my single-wheeler was a true balance challenge. I rode with my Teva's  for the first time and couldn't tell if it was those non-athletic shoes, my tire needing air, or my body NOT being physically "unicycle fit" that made those 21,120 feet (the conversion of miles to feet. Thanks fourth grade math!) down-right hard.

 Or .... was it the combination of  all three?

And ... does it REALLY matter? I worked hard for EVERY ONE of those 21,120 feet!! That's what matters.

It was not easy.

Staying centered was difficult because my left side of my body has lost strength. Most of the ride I had to tuck my left arm behind my back to make me keep my shoulders straight. I felt like a butler. Otherwise, I would veer right like a car with the tires out of alignment.

As for goals, and everybody needs them, it's time for a 5k or 10K. My eyes are peeled for something in our area to train for.  And hopefully, something before school starts back up. Because with school comes work, and with work comes less time. For now, I will push myself to ride my four-mile loop at least a couple times a week so I can get my "unicycle body" back in alignment!

Soon ...  cruising 21,120 feet on Blanche won't even phase me. That's my hope :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thurdsay Thidbits

I have seen many bloggers post "Friday Fragments," and always liked the random writing style. Therefore, I have created "Thursday Thidbits" (not tidbits, because keeping "TH's" in the title appealed to me) . I know, it sounds like you have a lisp when you say "Thursday Thidbits."
Try it.
Thee what I mean? It's thorta fun :)
Now for some Thidbits ... 
Can I get an "AMEN?"

 This is the souvenir I picked up in a Zion gift shop. It is the perfect prayer FOR ME!  Hanging this plaque up in my room will be a good reminder to stay close to God and hold my tongue. The latter part is a struggle, that's what makes this prayer fit like a sock in my mouth!

Another Thidbit? Zona the scorpion died yesterday. We had just moved him to a bigger jar and picked out rocks and wood for landscape. He never got to enjoy his new place... and that's okay with everyone around here. The novelty had worn off, but our  travels with Zona are good memories. 
RIP
My Teckie was safely delivered to the Los Angeles Airport yesterday morning. The traffic was horrible. I hate L.A, there's not an ounce of "city girl" in me.  Anxiety looms when I zoom down that Sepulveda Pass. Or shall I say crawl in traffic? How do people live there? I  already dread the drive back down to that armpit next week!
Get your facts straight Unicycle Rose!
I stand corrected! The birthday photo on my previous post was from Miss Piggy's 8th Birthday.  Want some more thidbits from that day, 39 years ago? Overboard made her an "8" cake created from two rounds cakes frosted together. The purple monkey's name was Banana. I'm standing on the right  wishing I had a purple monkey named Banana.
Final thidbit, tomorrow is Magic Mountain ... again. Those year passes need their exercise! The upside? Daniel and Lucas LOVE it! For me it's concentrated friend talking time. I don't ride rollercoasters anymore. We shepherd a small herd of boys from one ride to the next while chatting.
The downside? It's Magic Mountain.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Empty Nest. Tweet, tweet!

I'm sitting on the couch, sharing an after dinner candy cigarette with Daniel. Not kidding.

Today, I've  been thinking about many things while doing my Teckie's laundry and running errands for  him. I'm helping prepare for his trip to Kentucky. Tomorrow he leaves for a week with his Momma. He is happy to go and can't wait to see her,  sleep in, and help with house projects.  We will miss him, but I love that we are " modeling" for our sons how to treat your mother. Especially since my father-in-law passed. If I were her, I imagine how awesome it would be to have Lucas or Daniel show up at my place across the country.  It's a hope of mine, that one day, they will come spend one-on-one time with their Momma who  loves them!  Hopefully they will grow up thinking "that is what you do." 
Baby Teckie and his Momma, many, many moons ago. So sweet!
Again, modeling the behavior is all I can do right now, as they slowly slip away. (Insert dramatic pause here)

Lucas passed his driving test two days before we left on our road trip. I had no clue what it meant for our family.
 He.
 Is.
 Never.
 Home.
 He took a walk with me this morning and then he vanished until I asked he come home for a last supper with the family before his Dad leaves for Kentucky.

Today Daniel was at the beach all day. Surfing is his new thing. It was just me and the Wiener Sisters barking at the squirrels (I wasn't barking) running along the fence outside, while I folded clothes.  Glamorous, huh?
It was an "empty nest" day for me.

Although Teckie will be gone and boys don't need me much, I will
watch my niece-dog, Cinco, starting Friday. At least my "empty nest" will be full of fur and tails! Woof!
Flashback: Miss Piggy's 10th Birthday? I think it was her 10th that she got that purple monkey.
To her left is Cousin Gianna whom I look forward to seeing this Sunday :)
Today is Miss Piggy's Birthday and I 
look forward to celebrating with her soon.
 Cheers to Miss Piggy, CLINK!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Zion Park Motel Confession

Can we be honest? I must confess. The Zion Park Motel was a dump. I will probably spend more time in purgatory for writing this.  I knew when we pulled in, that it was in THE PERFECT location, but was a cheesy, old motel. As the days went on, I found clues to back up my hypothesis:
 The Zion Park Motel is a dump.
1.       When we pulled up to check in, the first parking spot had a printed sign in a page protector that read, "Absolutely no parking, unless your name is Alma." Nice Welcome!
2.     The place was dated. Our room sported plastic faux white wood paneling. It gave the feeling we were sleeping in a trailer.
It didn't even feel like a double-wide trailer!

3. The light bulbs on the bathroom  vanity fixture had different sizes and shapes of bulbs.  The walls were blatantly dirty, leaving me to repeat my new mantra “bleach" in my head.
4.       In their defense, the room DID have a small refrigerator that was added where the medicine cabinet used to be! Yes, right next to the sink, a little fridge was jerry-rigged into the wall.
5.       The local tourist magazines on the corner table had "Motel Copy" scrawled across them in blue marker.  In true motel fashion, there was a Gideon Bible in the drawer, next to the Book of Mormon in German. That's a first.
Quaint, rustic or dumpy?
6.    Oh, and when we checked in, Daniel said the office had that “old lady smell.”  The brown den couch in the registration area sported John Wayne to it's left.  There was a two-way mirror over the couch that made me feel like we might be interrogated. That was the "Motel Business Office." Fake dried flowers, that hinted to once having color, slumped around, acting like décor.  
Never underestimate the beauty of a rock garden
       The large front window looked out onto the main drag and under it was a rock garden with an algae-filled goldfish pond. Five fish swam around the mossy gunk. Poor things. That made me repeat my mantra “bleach” all over again. Oh, and next to the pond, on the left, was a makeshift grave. Yes, grave. The frosting on this dessert was that there was a small boot on a stick, poking out of the red sand plot.  The headstone read "Here lies the person who stole our rocks."  I assume they were referring to their big rock collection sitting around like weary travelers.

I told the kids, "Don't lay on the bedspread."
    In the end, the Zion  Park Motel supplied us beds, with what appeared to be clean sheets, and a dusty bathroom that worked. My boys didn’t  care or even notice stuff that this Mom did. This was a sweaty-outdoorsy-boy vacation anyway, with the exception of being spoiled in Phoenix. 
Visions of Phoenix danced in my head, helping me
tolerate The Zion Park Motel
One last confession ... I am the idiot that booked this place, in an effort to save money. Remember that we are in “Furlough Mode?” Thankfully, we didn't spend much time in that dank room. 
 Although I don't recommend this Motel,
our two-night stay is a memory that I will never forget ... 
No matter how hard I try!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Who Knew?


Boy, was I wrong thinking that I knew my guys! On our road trip I learned that Lucas loves ribs. He ordered them three times, finishing a whole rack one night at dinner. Who knew ribs were his current favorite?
I'll have the full rack of ribs (repeat, repeat)
Then there's Daniel. He's hooked on candy cigarettes, rock candy and grape Shasta soda. That's new to me! What happened to root beer?
Excuse me, where can I buy a carton of candy cigarettes around here?

Then, there's my husband. After hours facing obstacles in the canyon slots Saturday, it was time to canyoneer back up. Of course there wasn't a trail to follow, but a huge rounded side of a mountain/rock we had to scale, keeping balance by placing our weight behind the balls of our feet. There was no path or steps. There were some natural small perforations, but not many. Our guide gave us pointers, showing us the "open" spots that were extra risky. There was nothing to hold on to, but a scorching hot rock that burned if you left your hand there for too long. Balancing carefully, we started up.
 
Taking a break before we attempt the final hurdle ....UP!
This obstacle was different in that there weren't ropes to catch us if we lost footing.  It was a long, long, rocky way down. Our guide offered ropes, but the kids and I made it up and up. Then our guide asked us to wait. My Teckie was really struggling. I could see the sweat glowing on his arms, and frustration on his face. The guide coached him, but knowing his limits, he asked for rope.

Gulp!
This guide was smaller than my husband and I was curious how he was going to make this happen. The three of us were crouched down trying to keep awkward balance on the side of this rock mountain. He asked the kids and me to sit behind him and clip our locking carabiners (metal rings with spring-loaded gates, used as connectors) on to his back belt to serve as "anchors." We leaned back.  My Teckie clipped a carabiner with a special rope to his harness that the guide was attached to also.  The four of us leaned back and up he came!
After scaling the rock face, we had to traverse along the side ridge

My husband is in good shape, is an excellent hiker and outdoorsman. He has hiked numerous tall mountains. It didn't add up. After returning, I asked what happened. Little did I know, he had a fear of heights!  He was  paralyzed with anxiety that he would slip. And it was a long, dangerous way down. Too risky for him.  When he looked behind him and saw the possible danger, he freaked out inside. Who knew?
Rock climbing is a physically (I'm still a tad sore in the arms)  and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility and balance along with mental control.
Who knew "mental control" was part of canyoneering?
I'm just saying that whether it be messy ribs, candy cigarettes or a fear of precarious heights, spending concentrated time together creates an environment to learn new things about one another. Yes, it can also drive you nuts after ten. solid. days. However, on the upside, it's an excellent way to learn some of the "nooks and crannies" about the people you love the most!
WHO KNEW?
 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Last Leg of our Adventure



The Last (road trip) Supper
Our final night in Zion was a pleasant one. After scrubbing off the red rock dust, sweat and gross canyon water from the days extreme adventure, we ate dinner at Oscar's Café. This was the recommendation from John, our canyoneering guide, who's a Springdale local. After an amazing dinner we walked around town looking into the shops and many art galleries. There sure are a variety of rocks for sale and Indian souvenirs, like jade jewelry and dream catchers.  The Zion area is an inspirational hub for all sorts of artists. Every other store sells,  photographs, pottery, paintings or metal garden whirlybirds that were ridiculously expensive. Like thousands of dollars! We all wondered out loud, "Who buys that sort of thing?"

Art is truly in the eyes of the beholder. These  whirlybirds are neat, but is one worth $2300?
You decide.
 Of course, it started to rain while we moseyed around. There was a storm every night of our Utah visit and we were used to it. Back at the Zion Motel the boys laughed, irritated and slapped each other, but like the storms, we were used to that too.

So long, Room 105! More on that motel later ...

This morning all we had to do was pack up and drive back to Southern California. It was then I realized we would be driving through Las Vegas on a Sunday about 12:30. What horrible planning on my part. Traffic was horrible! We crawled through Vegas and spent the next hour driving no faster than 10 MPH.  Even after getting past the worst of it, we hit  patches of Sunday Vegas traffic that I didn't anticipate. Our seven hour drive stretched into almost nine hours.
 Nothing is ever perfect! Right?

No more Navajo Public Radio for us!

Of course, we were all antsy to get home ...  especially to love on The Wiener Sisters,  have our own beds and three full bathrooms! What a blessing THAT is. I was anxious to see how much my plants had grown and my husband has a full day of work to prepare for tomorrow. Poor thing. The last two hours, the kids were beyond bored, and Daniel took to making up silly songs. My husband told him how awesome the songs were ... that they were so special he should keep them to himself  :)
 The two hour delay in our arrival home was a sweet reminder that
THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME! 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

What is Canyoneering?


Family Bonding
Today's experience has been nothing like any other. Oddly enough, each day has outdone the one before and we never expected it, or saw it coming. Ending this adventure with a Canyoneering experience was the underscore of the week. At least, for my boys.They are planning their next
visit to Zion and are high as kites, or rocks. Whichever, I will be at the spa next trip!
 
 Honestly, my feet hurt from pushing the limits. Today, I repelled an 85 foot rock. Do you know how big that is? I didn't realize how extreme it was until I hoisted my can over the side of that rock and looked down. Waaaaay down. YIKES!

Daniel's first repel ever! He did great.
My Teckie REALLY pushed his limits. In this picture, Lucas is
belaying him as he slowly makes his way 85 feet down. Belay ...
our new word for the day!
 I never imagined we would do anything like this. My tired body is telling me to  share what The Zion Adventure Company's website says about this new American "sport." The pictures from today can illustrate  this for you, 
 and fill in the blanks!
This is John our AWESOMELY patient guide. Happy Birthday to John!
It was a blessing having him share all his knowledge and talent with us.
We highly recommend The Zion Adventure Company, AKA: ZAC
This is off their website ...

"In Europe, canyoneering or “canyoning” is an intense sport, well known as the latest "extreme game." Here, in the mecca of canyoneering, extremists have been descending Zion’s "Secret Canyons" for nearly 100 years. Just now, canyoneering is hitting the mainstream in the United States.
The water in the "slots" was the part I liked least. It smelled horrible. The special
socks and shoes they loaned us were soggy afterward and stayed that way
for hours.  I couldn't wait to head back
for a shower.
Canyoneering refers to travel through or occupation of a steep narrow area requiring the use of a variety of wilderness techniques. It is transforming. It reaches in and brings out the child in all of us as it combines all levels of exploration: hiking, splashing through streams, scrambling over boulders, problem solving with peers, and rappelling through waterfalls into cold pools.

Lucas "clicked" with canyoneering and was REALLY good at it.
Long, lean and all muscle this kid was Spider Boy!
 
Canyoneering is the fastest growing sport in Zion National Park, with hundreds of people making their way through the labyrinth of slots the Park offers. Some canyons are easy to descend and require no special skills at all; others require wilderness-level planning and training and offer immense physical and mental challenges. Whatever your state of readiness, there is a canyon in the desert awaiting you."
 
 Can you say "a lil' sore?"
There is a funny store behind this picture of us heading back up to where the
Zion Adventure Company car was. 
It was 99 degrees and we were running out of
juice. We will save the story for another time. Let's just say that the three
of us are my husband's "anchor" in more ways than one!
 All these pics don't do the experience justice. Imagine the size of this experience times ten. That should do it!
Lunchtime! Thank goodness my Teckie took a walk last night and picked us up some
water, granola and sandwiches!
Yes! Lots of knots with special names were learned today. I can't
recall one. There were so many and the boys loved to learn about them!
 There are many details that are worth sharing, but they will have to wait. Oh, and I only took 200 pictures. I couldn't help it.  I think you get the "gist" of it, as my family would say :) 
 
We all want/need some dinner and our beds look like an "oasis in the desert" to these weary travelers!
Tomorrow we're homeward bound!

Friday, July 19, 2013

On the Road Again

Westward Ho!
Filing  up our Honda with gas, and our bellies with Carl's Junior, we are back on the open road. Saying "adios" to Moab at 10AM  we now have just over 2 hours, 20 minutes left before we arrive in Spingdale, Utah.   Tomorrow is our  Canyoneering trip with The Zion Adventure Company. I'm not 100% sure what it entails, but they give you special shoes, technical equipment, and a guide. He leads you on hikes through canyons where you repel  down huge rocks. Yes, more big rocks. I also read that you learn how to tie different knots, which I have zero interest in learning.

Zona Lives ON! It's a fuzzy picture, but he is in there!
 Can you believe that our scorpion from Phoenix is still alive? He is in the smallest of jars and a rock was put inside for landscape, but we fear it could kill him if we aren't careful.  We  can't remove the rock  because we don't want to get stung. It's a catch 22! Our trip mascot, Zona,  has survived on a diet of one spider and  one ant thus far.  Every morning we wake up and think he's dead, but he is squirming those ugly pincers by late afternoon. I think I remember Debbie telling us that scorpions hide out during day and come active at night. That's our Zona!
Watching a movie to pass the hours
 Last night, at the top of Delicate Arch Lucas  said, "I think I have done my exercise for the year." I laughed. That's "so Lucas." Unlike  our Daniel who begs to climb mountains and  will need to have his  survival knife and camel back surgically removed. Daniel can't get enough of the outdoors , while Lucas is "chill" with one earbud in.  He texts his friends  and is lining up band practice when we return. So sixteen. Lucas drove a few days ago and became "tired." I think he lasted 20 minutes, tops.

Jus another rest stop ...
The thing about this traveling style is that it's "Family Constant." By that I mean, the four of us, all with different personalities, are trapped  in a car for hours. And Travel Pants are not for sale yet:) We share adventures during the days and all sleep in one room by night. We negotiate one bath room that at least two need to use at the same time. There isn't a break from one another, unless it's your turn to shower or "use the can." This past week has been family bonding at its finest.

We finally made it! This place REALLY makes me miss Debbie and Matt's house!

Weeping Rock in Zion National Park. It was a foliage covered cave rock that was
weeping constant drips of "tears."
My Teckie's  driving and spitting his Jalapeño Hot Sunflower seeds into a cup while raindrops fall on our dirty windshield. I'm sitting shotgun, trying to watch him drive, biting my tongue. The speed limit is 80, it's pounding down rain, and Daniel needs to use the bathroom.  Only 1 hour and 20 minutes until Springdale...
Can you believe it? Lucas ran into a band friend from Westlake High School in Zion.
Meet Jordan...
Talk about a small world!
Lucas keeping sharp by reading the Book of Mormon in German.
 Six hours later...
As you can tell, we arrived. We hit the park via shuttle for a couple hours, but honestly we were spent. Still,  we found time to bicker and laugh.It was beautiful with much more greenery than other places. Like a garden with more huge rocks peering down at you, like a mother to a small child. A highlight was Lucas's friend recognizing him while they sat next to each other on a park shuttle bench. They were in Winter Drum Line together. Jordan on Saxophone, Lucas on guitar. Heck, it is a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it!

Zion is a quaint touristy town and we are right in the middle of it. We hit the candy store next to our motel after dinner. The diet starts on Tuesday, right?

Until next time ... but wait, there's  more!

P.S. Two last thoughts:
1.Thanks Mom for loaning me your Tevas! I have put some miles on them. You ROCK! (get it?)
2. I miss the Weiner Sisters!