Friday, November 23, 2007

I am all powerful

Okay. That's a joke.

But I hadn't seen a forecast for a few days when I wrote that post on Wed lamenting the rain and saying I'd rather have snow...

By about 1:00 am that next morning, I was hearing sleet on the windows... and woke up Thurday morning to a light dusting of the white stuff.

And today, it's cold. Like middle of January cold.

I haven't even cleaned up my yard for winter yet!!! Now, I'm praying for a thaw so I can rake leaves, and so the eavestrough guys can do their thing. They're supposed to come the first week of Dec.

Since my asking for snow worked so well on the blog on Wed. I am now asking for a thaw. A big one. That lasts a few weeks. It can snow again right before Christmas. Okay? Order in.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rain, rain, go away

November can be such a dreary month. The days are short and when it's rainy... Well, it just pretty much sucks.

I have been sitting at my computer all day today and haven't managed to get a word written on my new ms. So much for Nano. Damn.

I did get some stuff done re a contest I'm coordinating and have done some deep thinking about another completed manuscript... But no motivation to actually do anything.

When November gets this dreary, I'm almost looking forward to snow. At least it's pretty.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I don't get it

First, I don't get why many smokers don't seem to think their butts (the cigarette ones) aren't litter. Why someone who probably wouldn't toss their empty drink container, or kleenex, or whatever, on the ground feels it's all right to leave an ugly filter...

But, what I really don't get is why someone thinks it's okay to just toss a lit cigarette away with no regard to who's around them. (Or out of car windows for that matter.)

A very windy day last week, I was walking behind a young smoker just as we were approaching the entrance to the subway station. I was already not enjoying the smoke blowing from her cigarette and straight into my lungs... But as she reached the door, she just tossed her smoke away. Now, even on a non-windy day this would be annoying... But it was windy and the cigarette flew back and hit me.

Okay. It bounced off my jeans. No burn. No real damage. But boy was I angry. I chased her down and told her to be more careful when she disposed of her cigarettes. She was apologetic when I told her it had hit me, but seriously... Why did she think she could just toss it like that???

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Morning or night?

Are you a morning person, or a night person?

I am decidedly a night one... Always have been, even as a little kid, according to my mom.

But this week I'm babysitting my sister's kids -- one of whom has to get up at 6:30 and eat a 5 course (I'm not kidding) breakfast and have his at least 5 course lunch packed all before 7:20.

I wonder... If I had to do this every day... Would I switch? Years of desperately trying to get to work on time would argue against this...

Are you a morning or a night person? Do you believe it's possible to switch?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I am so excited!

First, sorry for bailing on my trip description. I came down with the plague and am still getting over it.

But something just perked me up, big time. Twin Peaks. The entire series. Is about to be released on DVD.

For anyone who missed David Lynch's ground breaking TV series from the early 1990's you need to watch it. I can't wait. The pilot episode has never been available on DVD before because the rights were owned by someone else, or something. And it's a series where the pilot kind of matters.

It's not hard to see the influence of this show on many good (and bad) TV series and even movies in the 1990's and 2000's. David Lynch is a genius, if a bit insane and a very impressive group of directors did individual episodes.

I've been watching the first couple of seasons of Veronica Mars on DVD, because of recommendations from several people... (I like it... but not sure I LOVE it) but back to my point. I watched one of the extras and the show's creator, Rob Thomas, was talking about how much he was influenced by Twin Peaks. I do admit the whole starting out with a dead girl's body thing, not to mention the diary, and sex scandals, all seemed a teensy bit derivative of Twin Peaks. But Twin Peaks was twisted. Veronica Mars isn't twisted.

They did fall off the rails at some point on Twin Peaks. Great example of a series going on longer than it should have. Or what happens when you have an amazing idea but then don't know where to take it when you find out you can make more episodes than you ever imagined you'd be able to, or when you have to keep out doing yourself because there were so many shocks, so many firsts for TV at the outset that where do you go from there??? But it's well worth the ride, even if the ride goes into crazy land for the last few episodes. Buy or rent it if you're curious about who killed Laura Palmer. The question on everyone's minds back in 1990.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day Four -- Into Havasupai

I finding it hard to describe how sore my legs were by this point. And I'm supposed to be a writer? Let's just say that tasks such as walking down a couple of stairs or -- gasp -- lowering oneself onto a toilet seat were excruciating. We had to stop at a drug store to replenish our ibuprophin supplies. Popping those babies like candy.

And yet... We had another 8 mile hike into another canyon ahead of us.

We actually spent the morning of this day in the van -- which kind of sucked. And the various pee stops needed by a group of 13 adults in a van (worse than kids) meant we didn't reach the trail head until 12:30 in spite of our 6:30 am breakfast.

And the task ahead was a hike into the village in the Havasupai Indian Reservation, where there's only one "restaurant", which stops serving food promptly at 5:00 pm.

So, that left 4 1/2 hours to go 8 miles. 2 miles down about a 2000 ft side canyon on a pretty rough trail it was hard to descend quickly without breaking something, and then another 6 miles of relative flat. (I realized when we came back out 2 days later, that we'd been going slightly downhill the whole day... but it was very gradual.)

And it was the flat that killed me. It was hot, dusty, and varied between sand and gravel for the surface -- lots of slipping and sliding and it was hard to keep a quick pace up. I wore a bandana over my head under my baseball cap, looking like someone out of the foreign legion. But it did wonders in keeping the sun off my neck and ears. (I'm sure someone got a photo of that... but I don't have one just yet.)

Also, the mule and horse trains on this trail in the reservation weren't the guide-lead-tourista-topped-slow-moving variety of the national park, either. They freakin' galloped with a cowboy (actually, more like an indian than a cowboy... but a cowboy none-the-less) driving them from behind. Crap they moved fast and if you didn't get out the way you'd be trampled. They went slower into the Canyon (laden with, well, everything available in the village store and cafe, than they went out. The outgoing horses really galloped. Most of them went out "empty" with just a few carrying outgoing mail and such. I sadly have no pictures of these mule or horse trains. It was too scary and too dusty to take out my camera.

The biggest challenge for me that day was that we had to walk faster on the flats than I was comfortable with. The speed disadvantage that comes from my height (or lack thereof) is more pronounced when walking on flats than inclines, because my stride is so short. I basically have to run to keep up to taller people... So, after climbing in and out of the Grand Canyon... on which day do I get a terrible pressure blister under the back ridge of my heel???? On the day we hike 6 miles on the flats. Go figure.

Painful. So painful.

Our entire group arrived in the village within 40 minutes of each other (we stragglers literally ran to keep up) and had to go straight into the cafe to grab supper.

And supper was, well, interesting... they do these "tacos" on fried bread. And burritos with the most tasteless beans I've ever had. But it was food. And there were cold drinks and the promise of a bed and shower at the "lodge" so I was happy if soaked in sweat and very dusty -- more like muddy with the combo of sweat and dust.

The lodge was actually quite adequate. The rooms were big and clean and had great showers. Think cheap motel, but cleaner.

Some members of our group found the village a little hard to take, comparing it to a third world country... But I don't think those people have ever been to a third world country. Sure, the streets were sand, there were corrals lining the village streets -- nothing like the constant smell of mule piss -- but I found the village interesting and quaint. The people living there seemed happy enough and the setting's pretty spectacular.

But the really spectacular sights of the Havasupai canyon, the reason we'd hiked down to stay in this tiny village, would await us in the morning on our "rest day".

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day Three -- And then we climb...

Yes, downhill was harder. I still maintain that. But I didn't get much sleep at Phantom Ranch. In fact, by Tuesday I'd had about 4 nights in a row with very little sleep, so that 4:30 am wake-up call on the day we hiked out of the canyon came pretty early.

My hands were tender, right at the base of my index fingers (from the new hiking poles) so the wonderful Kristi taped up my hands with duct tape while we all got ready to leave our dorm. Sure, the tape kept the blisters from getting worse, but I swear the main advantage of the taped hands was feeling like a boxer, ready to take on that 10 mile and 5000 ft assent. (Not that boxers hike... but do you get what I mean? Fierce.)

When we started out that morning, it was getting a bit light in the canyon -- the sky was turning from black to grey -- but we'd been hiking at least an hour before we started to see signs of the sun hitting the very tops of the canyon walls. (See photo above. Actually, in that photo, I'm pretty sure it was 8 or so and we're looking at sun hitting an inner bit of the canyon. No way is that high enough to be the main canyon. And the sides of the main canyon aren't nearly that close to the river.) The sights were pretty incredible. In fact, the first few miles of the hike -- actually almost everything about that day -- was incredible.

So sick of walking downhill, my legs were thrilled by the uphill thing, and my lungs were finally getting used to the altitude. (And, of course, the altitude's not so bad at the bottom of the canyon.)

The scenery down in the canyon is amazing, too. And I'd been too shaky to enjoy it the previous afternoon in the final few hours of the descent. Creeks with this odd red weed growing at the sides, Century and Prickly Pear cacti, and countless beautiful sights as the sun rose. A few hours in, Craig, one of our guides said something like, "Look at the grin on your face." And it was true. I couldn't stop smiling. Sure, my heart was beating a bit too fast as I walked uphill, but I couldn't help thinking: this is why I'm alive. This is the sort of thing I live for.

I decided about that time to pack some of the happy I was feeling away, in case I needed it later. Of course, I was half-way thinking I'd could save it until February when the sky would be gray and the days short... No way would I need it in the Canyon! I mean, I was feeling strong. My legs hurt but were glad to climb. My heart rate and breaths were fast but under control, and after the steep bits, stopping for a minute or two brought my heart rate back down. On top of all that, I had boxer tape on my hands. This climb was going to be great.

Little did I know at that point, that I'd be seriously needing my stored up happy later that same day.

Dinner that night was at the El Tovar. A fabulous restaurant at the South Rim. And our reservation was at 5:30 pm. By about 3:00 pm or so, the group I was hiking with started to realize making it out in time for dinner -- especially if we wanted to, oh, have a shower or even take off our dusty boots before going into the restaurant, was going to be a big challenge. (Did I mention the way the pink dust in the canyon sticks to everything including your legs so we all looked like we were wearing nylons? Everywhere? Those mules can kick up a lot of dust.) The last 2-3 miles of the assent, I think we were barely going a mile an hour and were stopping at the end of almost every switch back trying to catch our breath in the thinning air, or will our legs to keep moving, or our feet to take the pressure of another painful step.

About 3:30, Kristi -- already checked into the hotel, showered and way too perky -- walked back down the last half mile or so from the top to meet us. Did I mention I love Kristi? The best thing about Kristi -- there are many -- is that we stragglers finally did get to the top, she let us rest and have a beer in the bar while she ran to the hotel to pick up the van and our room keys. Then she drove us to the hotel, waited 20 minutes for us to grab a quick shower and then drove us to dinner. I tell you. Not having to walk that quarter mile to the hotel, or the half mile to dinner saved my life. (As did the happy I'd stored in little ziploc bags nearer the bottom. Used every one.)

The gang who'd made it out of the canyon earlier in the day were already drinking wine on the veranda of the El Tovar when we stragglers got dropped off in the van. But we all made it, had a fabulous dinner and got a ride back to our very welcome beds.
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