Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lumberjacks, are We.

I thought I couldn't possibly respect the Pioneers any more than I already do.
Then I went camping in the snow.
Fresh snow. Wet everything. Anything you could possibly burn for a fire absolutely soaking wet. And freezing cold but still impossibly squishy mud. And yet still somehow the most fun I've had in quite a while.

So we headed out Sunday morning and shockingly managing to make it out in one go, not forgetting any one important item. Pro-status, yo. We made it to Payson and pulled off to actually figure out where we wanted to actually go off-road for the camping and tree hunting. We consulted our handy dandy map of where we were allowed to chop and fiddled with our phones for a few minutes to see if there were any convenient camping sites in the area. There were plenty, but most of them required a fee to get in. No, thank you.
So we just kinda picked a general direction and went that-a-way.
Pro-status, remember?
A lot of the turnoffs turned out to be closed for the season, but we finally found a back road that looked promising. We got to a bend where we could either keep going along the clearly traversed dirt road or veer off onto an even more off-roadish path. We took the path less traveled by and came upon a steep bank bordered on either side by even more steep hills and rocks. But Mark was determined. We careened forward, crested the top with our front wheels and tipped deeply to the drivers side, a loud harsh grinding pulling us to a halt. Mark managed to open his door and see that we were ground against the bank on his side and could not continue forward. We backed up, got into 4th low gear and attempted once again to conquer the embankment. We climbed up with a bit more ease and made it over the crest but were once again greeted by the ripping, grinding sound and upon making it across and inspecting the truck we found that the driver's side foot rail had been smashed inward and was awkwardly crunched to one side.
Oops. Luckily, we both aren't too attached to the railing system and actually prefer the look without the stepping aids. So that made it all the better when it eventually completely fell off near the end of the trip.
We ventured onward, not wanting the step to have been crushed in vain but it soon became apparent that this pathway was designed for a lighter, smaller vehicle. We made a few ruts, flung a good amount of mud, trekked on foot to deign whether it was worthwhile to struggle onward, deemed it NOT worthwhile, completed a 10-point (roughly) turn and skedaddled on out. We cheated at the dreaded bank and instead turned off the path, down the hill, into the rock studded ditch (at an alarmingly steep angle, mind you) and curved around a mangled tree.
We found our camping spot not 20 yards beyond our win/fail of an adventure and parked the truck on the flattest spot of ground we could find. We cooked up our dinner and enjoyed the steamy warmth of cheesy chili with sliced up hot dogs sopped with hot dog buns under the cozy goose-down comforter we brought along. A light, gentle snow began falling and everything was perfect. Except that we hadn't found a single dry thing to begin a fire with, let alone a place to build a fire. So we shut up early and ran the truck for a few minutes to work up some heat. Pretty soon, it was cozy enough to leave our extremities outside of the blanket as we listened to Ender's Game on audiobook.
The morning was bright and cold and we wasted no time in deciding that the half hour drive back to Payson for a hot breakfast was in order. I got the country fried steak special with two eggs, potatoes, and toast and he got the double order of biscuits and gravy with a side of bacon. The waitress asked him, "Have you had that before?" Mark hesitated, unsure of how to answer and she added on, "it's a lot of food."
We laughed.
After completely forgetting to submit our order to the chef and apologizing profusely, our plates arrived. It was a BUTT TON of food. The biscuits were each the size of softballs and there were four of them. Between the both of us there was only a bite and a half leftover. The waitress praised our efforts. The potato slices were fried perfection and the scrambled eggs went nicely with the fluffy wheat toast. We did not regret fudging just a tad on our "camping" adventure.
Funnily enough, once we gave up on the 260 giving us any good tree trails (most were closed or too muddy or had no usable christmas tree types) we headed up the 87 and ended up turning off onto the Fire Control Road that was actually the 64. The very first road we turned off of and searched around we found a very nice looking tree. Evenly branched, fairly full of needles and symmetrically shaped. Only maybe slightly too large. We marked that spot in our minds but kept searching. We went as far in as Camp Geronimo but eventually headed back to that very first perfect find to make our early dinner and then head back home. Another uncomfortable night in the truck was not eagerly anticipated so we both agreed going home early would be better than sticking it out another day.
We hiked around, completely disregarding anything on the ground and breaking off any dead, hanging branches that looked like they were at least somewhat dry. After gathering a decent pile, we dug out the already formed fire pit and managed to get a fire going after around twenty minutes. And there was much rejoicing in the land. Even though we burned through almost 80% of the paper plates we had brought along. Not that we needed that many for the trip. We threw our tin foil wrapped piles of steak with chopped up carrots and bell peppers on top and I wedged my traditional can of ravioli onto the coals. When it was bubbling up red sauce through the steam holes I had poked through the top, I attempted to use our long tongs to turn it but when I squeezed the can, little lava bursts of red sauce would squirt out of the top. I managed to turn it without losing too much sauce.
Everything heated quite nicely and we stuffed our faces with sirloin and tri-tip, dipping pieces in the leftover ravioli sauce. I couldn't let the opportunity be wasted and wrapped a hot dog in the used tin foil from the steak and cooked it up on the coals as well and had myself a heavily ketchuped hot dog. Turns out there's a pressure difference between Payson and the valley so not depressurizing and shaking up the bottle so the ketchup is all down by the opening and flipping the lid open is a really great way to get a monstrous stream of ketchup to come soaring out onto your unsuspecting hot dog.
We had cinnamon cake and milk for dessert and just enjoyed the warmth of our successful fire. When the sun went down we began to pack up and Mark wandered off to go find the plastic jug of water we'd seen earlier to use in putting out the fire.
We quickly found out the jug most definitely did NOT contain water. Mark unscrewed the lid to find the seal still intact so the sticker on the front professing to be anti-freeze was actually correct. He declared that it would work anyway since anti-freeze isn't flammable.
Guess what.
It's so totally flammable.
He splashed a bit onto the coals and it whooshed into bright greenish yellow flames. We played with that for a bit before getting out our drinking water and using that to dash out the flames as well as piling some mud on top for good measure.
We continued to pack things up into the truck when I opened the passenger door, reached inside for something and my hip brushed the envelope tucked into the pocket on the door. Out toppled our permit for cutting down our Christmas tree, the whole entire point why we came out, and realized that we had both totally forgotten about it. I held up the envelope and said to Mark at the back of the truck,
"Oh, uh honey? Let's not forget our tree, shall we?"
He looked up with wide eyes and mouth in a silent "O" and we laughed for a long time at ourselves. We're gonna be so helpless when we're old and senile.
We were back home by 8:30, threw all our dirty smelly clothes in the washer, drew up a hot bubble bath and showered away the dirt and sore muscles, then enjoyed an episode of White Collar before retiring to bed.
It was a beautiful, wonderful, solid vacation and I would do it all again this weekend if I could.

We're pretty excited about decorating the tree.
More pictures to come soon!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Once Upon A Time.....

I did a lot of things. All the things. But not really. Actually not at all. I've been pretty lax about doing all the things. But I've done lots of things. And I finally have the pictures off my camera and into a computer so I can blog about them!

Forever and a day ago (it feels like), I went to my company's HR conference in "the ghost town Banning in Georgia's only lost gorge" so it's really a miracle I made it out alive. Also, I want to move there. So there's that.

What's this? What's this?!
Pretty leaves. Much color. Yaaaass.

Old abandoned village? NBD.

The old paper mill across the river
that I did end up crossing barefoot with my 
fancy pants all rolled up.


I actually took a video of myself while I was hiking but blogger won't take it so HAH. No video for you. Basically I was documenting my possible-last-moments as a living human. I didn't get out hiking till almost 7 o'clock and I really wanted to make it to the old mill but it was getting darkish and I was only wearing my strappy sandals and I had left my phone charging in my room. So basically every idiotic thing you should never do for hiking. In a ghost town. It probably wouldn't have mattered if I did have my cell phone anyway cuz there was little to no reception even up at the lodge, let alone a quarter mile out into the middle of the woods. 
I had no way to tell the time, but I just looked in the properties of the video and it was nearing on 7:50 when I finally decided I'd better turn around rather than get stuck in the dark of the woods without a companion, shoes, phone, or flashlight. I had only gone about a tenth of the way back before I ran into a few guys from the same conference group as me headed out the way I was going so I felt much better tagging along and going further. 

This was about the time I just took my shoes off.

Which was extremely helpful in crossing the river.
It was mossy but not slick mossy,
so it gave me this little grippy carpet to stabilize my footing.
Marine dude (in orange) had a hard time
with his sneakers slipping.

There's some scaffolding, 
results of the attempted renovations.
But it would be so expensive to get it presentable again,
nobody has really put forth the effort yet.

Because it wasn't creepy enough yet.

If I'd only had a flashlight, there would have been much more exploring. But without the flash on my camera it was terribly, overwhelmingly dark in there.
The sun completely set while we were headed back so I'm really lucky I didn't break anything or cut myself on anything. I even took a response video to my "farewell" video that wouldn't upload earlier.

So that was my Georgia adventure. I'd love to go back to the same lodge for a vacation sometime later in life. I think Mark would enjoy it and it would be fun to go just for fun.
Oh! And the ziplining is LEGIT. We got to do a medium sized course and, I mean, I'm not bragging but I was pretty good at it. Not that there's much to actually be good at...

You'd zip along through the canopy
between these little treehouse posts.
We can pretend I actually visited the moon of Endor, right? 
It's basically the same thing.

They also claim to have the Guinness World Record
for the longest zipline in the world.
They've clocked people going 80mph down it.
You can't really see it but at the tippy top of that hill of trees
is the starting point for the zipline.
It goes all the way down, past the lodge,
and I never even saw the end point. 

I also had east coast barbeque and it was....different. Tasty, but not exactly what I expect when you hear "barbeque". Like, you know, barbeque sauce. That would've been beneficial. 

Stay tuned for Disneyland, nuclear bombs, corn mazes, and general life updates!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Rant Sometimes

To understand this post, please follow this link
and watch this 5 minute apparent tutorial on

I'll still be here when you're done.

"Those cute guys on Big Bang Theory"

This video hurts.
It hurts my now sad little heart.
I am exceedingly grateful that this is obviously farcical...but...still. Shutup. Shut thine face. Everything she's listing is just how to be that annoying person pretending to be a nerd. The topknot doesn't help.
Basically right now I could say, "Here's my tutorial on how to be a snide hipster jerk and ironically mock the name of Nerd-dom," and then link you the video again.
Instead of titling the video "How to be a Nerd" maybe go with "In which I demonstrate how little I understand of nerd culture".
I don't even play card games. I don't do WoW (although I have a copy gifted me a couple years ago that I played a total of maybe half an hour on...) and the last time I played a video game was over a year ago and it was a sad, sad round of Counterstrike because aiming? Not my strong suit. Also stealth. Also strategy. And cunning.
But I do identify as a nerd.
I am extremely dedicated to my book collection and still cannot get the hang of reading without grasping an actual physical spine. Preferably leather or cloth.
I am borderline obsessive about my music. Both listening and practicing. I have the overwhelming desire to delve into countless different instruments and learn them but haven't the funds, means, or time (read; energy) to do so.
I am a dedicated Disney fanatic.
I like arts and crafts. I like baking. I like hiking, and camping, and fishing, and swimming, and gardening, and occasionally I enjoy shopping for shoes and handbags and scarves. But I burn out after about forty minutes of straight shopping.
However, I continually fail to grasp the concept of every day fashion/makeup/hairstyling. I can manage for one evening of haberdashery but my daily "office" look is sadly lacking. As well as at home. Not only am I not stylish, I'm not even hipster stylish. I just don't know how to dress myself. Not to mention half of my wardrobe is leftover from high school. It's a mish mash of things that don't go together, don't fit me very well, and don't look so hot anymore. I feel my best in a loose fitting tee and a worn pair of jeans. And bare feet, but that's another matter.
I used to play Crash Team Racing quite a bit as a kid. I am still addicted to Bookworm and Bejeweled and I played those educational CD-Rom games well into junior high when they were grade/middle school learning programs because I just enjoyed the puzzles. I wish to own Portal/Portal 2 but I cannot play in front of others because I am extremely self conscious about how long it takes me to beat levels. Even if I'm fairly quick at it, the peering eyes and over-the-shoulder watching breeds paranoia and panic (sidenote: holy deja vu right now.)
I do enjoy the Avengers and hero movies but that in no way "qualifies" me as a nerd. It is my passion for the subjects that I love that make me a nerd. I would say the creator of this video, this Stacey, is already a nerd because she so obviously spends a lot of time on these videos of hers. That is her "nerd" feature. The ability to be a nerd is only quantified by being able to find immense pleasure from certain activities and spending your time doing those activities.
That's it.
That's "How to be a Nerd."

And now I leave you with the wise words of Wil Wheaton saying exactly what I was just trying to say. #wordsarehard.

"So, there's going to be a thing in your life that you love. I don't know what that's going to be...and it doesn't matter what it is. The way you love that, and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes you a nerd. The defining characteristic of [being a nerd] is that we love things. Some of us love Firefly and some of us love Game of Thrones, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or anime, or games, or fantasy, or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things..."
"...That's why being a nerd is awesome. And don't let anyone tell you that that thing that you love is at hing that you can't love. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't love that, that's for boys...you find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can."
"It's not about what you love. It's about how you love it."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stream of Consciousness

I just looked through my 20 blog drafts I have sitting in my queue and wanted to declutter a bit. So here is an unorganized and unpolished smattering of a couple blog posts I started at some point within the last year and just never finished or lost where I was going with the words.


Adulthood is tough beans. The toughest beans around. And basically by "adulthood" I just mean being responsible for your own life and being faced with those responsibilities directly. I won't take the "tough beans" away from children faced with terminal illnesses, older brothers and sisters that have to find ways to feed their little siblings and shelter them, and teenagers that hide their abused skeletons deep inside the closet. All these things make premature adults out of the young ones who should be cared for and gently tutored into their adult lives. But it doesn't always go that way. I am not in any way able to claim I was shoved into adulthood via some traumatic experience early on, but that doesn't mean it's any less difficult to manage emotionally and psychologically.
I am quite literally on the verge of having a anxiety attack for merely trying to discuss my job title at my current work. It's a small company, so labels aren't that clear and everyone fudges a little on the parameters of their job description. We all share the load. I get that.
But in a world so centered around career mapping, and corporate ladder climbing, and resume building, I want to make sure I'm not going to get screwed over down the road when I eventually wish to be employed as something other than a Mom once again.


I never realized how completely random and ironic it is that Mark and I share such a similar plot-line of "life locations".
We were both born in Arizona; myself in Mesa, him in Tucson.
We both spent a lot of our growing up years in completely different states; Utah for me, Iowa for him (also ironic because my Dad's family is from Iowa!).
But then somehow we both end up back in Arizona and at the same high school.
But we never knew each other in high school.
Plus, we had all the same friends! Kind of. He was friends with choir people and came to all the concerts, I was in choir so I both knew his friends and spent a buttload of time with them.
So weird. Life is weird.


Memories are funny things.
Some cars will always be certain people. A white cavalier is your best friend from high school and the many wild, crazy nights you spent adventuring in that same car.
A white pickup truck is your first boyfriend. You broke each others' hearts but life moved on. That one rickety four-door sedan is a gentle reminder of that random date who didn't mention the passenger door doesn't open from the inside and you were sure you would be murdered momentarily.
Pears are cool summer mornings on the wooden lawn chair with the peeling white paint that you'll pick at later, slurping down a styrofoam Cup of Noodles for lunch.
The hot sun beaming down mixed with the smell of dirt is all those initially boring but fruitfully adventurous afternoons spent perusing the tree/plant nurseries with your parents as they shop for landscaping shrubs.
Memories are total d-bags, too. They come at the worst times and they elude you when you need them most. They're flirtatious butterflies with independent minds of their own.


I think I just realized something about myself. I tend to try too hard to figure myself out.
This is what we would call a conundrum.
I find one thing that works and end up doggedly pursuing that remedy so I'll never be sad again. Then when I inevitably find myself in a rut I dig deeper into the remedy, frustrated that it isn't working as well as it used to.
Usually I have to turn in the complete opposite direction to fix myself again.
I waste so much time fixating on what used to make me happy when if I just opened my dumb eyes and ears I might recognize that there is another option. It's seriously like leaning with my entire bodily force into a door that pulls open and being so determined that if I just push hard enough, it will open.
But if I just looked at the sign with the big letters "PULL" on it, I could stop struggling and open the dumb door on the beautiful hinges made especially just for opening doors.
It's so strange and frustrating that this feels like such an epiphany. It makes sense. Why can't I think about that before I waste so much time feeling lost and so unlike myself?
Maybe it's because I panic. I see the fear and sadness and depression coming and fight to get away from it. I panic and push against that door, not thinking to stop and look for a minute. Just a minute. Look at myself. Look at my life. Look at the things that give me those feelings of dread. Look at the things that uplift me. Choose the uplifting things. Forget about what everybody else is looking at and use my own eyes.
Maybe that's it, too. I'm pushing on the door and looking through goggles that only show me what everyone around me is seeing.
And! I'm trying to not show that I'm pushing. I'm too afraid to let anyone else know I'm struggling, that I try to nonchalantly, inconspicuously push all my strength against that stupid door while wearing my idiotic goggles and it's just futile and pointless.


Attempting to change is scary.

(art by Mei Lee)

All of a sudden it's been years since I've just laid in my room listening to music and just thinking random thoughts. Or just listened to music and read a book all night. Or listened to music for a couple hours as I fell asleep.
Basically I really need my iPod back. Or just figure out how to put all my music on my fancy smartphone. That's what it's for, right?
I also need to enjoy the outdoors more. I miss feeling the sunlight. I see plenty of it, but I don't get to just soak it in and feel it on my face much. Three cheers for cancer, but I'm serious.

"Selling my soul for a nickel and dime, breaking my heart to keep making these rhymes."
Why thanks for summing up all my ramblings in two simple sentences...Peter Bradley Adams? Pandora is my fave.


Anybody know what the heck I was talking about in any of these? 
The brain rambles what it rambles.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hormones spike my feminism...

After ordering all the pizzas off of Barro's online menu that I think sound tantalizing for our office birthday celebration lunch;

co-worker (male) (it's important later): So what didja get?
me: Um, the Special, chicken supreme, half barbeque half white, mega meat, and pepperoni with 3 dozen wings.
co-worker: Whoa, so you ordered pizza for...men.
me: [stunned silence]
co-worker: No offense.

Shut your face, no pizza for you.

I'm not even the most sensitive feminist you'll run into but really?? And yeah, I had 6 pieces, what of it?

Do it.

Try and dictate what kind of pizza I can eat
because I have boobs

I dare you.

Yeah, yeah, you're all big strong scary men and need the meatiest pizza 
to fortify your testosterone filled meat bags for bodies. 
I'm sure you're completely well-endowed.
Calm yourself.