Interstellar Adventures

February 27, 2005

Martin Dies 12-hour

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 7:24 pm

Wow! What a trip! It was a great race, we finished, and we did well! 8 people traveled together for 16 hours and 5 minutes, made it through with great attitudes, and we were able to laugh and cheer and eat turkey chili. And, although I felt like someone beat me with a stick when I woke up this morning, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I will provide a full race report once I get all my thoughts together, all my laundry washed, and my film developed. Boy am I tired! I’ll give you a hint of what to expect though…wet and muddy!

Stay tuned for the first edition of The Chubby Chronicles.

February 24, 2005

You can follow me at Martin Dies

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 10:24 am

The big race is this weekend! I’m taking a half day at work today and all day off tomorrow to finish packing and preparing. Who knew you could need so much stuff!

And, I have to also pause to give appreciation to some people. #1, my DH/PC. Thank you for letting me have a “kitchen pass” for the weekend to go on this little jaunt. You’ll be out here with me soon! 😉 #2 & #3, my little kiddos. Thanks for being such great kids that person #4, Auntie RoRo will pick you up from school and let you spend Friday night with her. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

If you like, you can follow my team (actually racing with two teams) the Chubby Bastardos and the Chubby DeLites online! I think this is so cool.

Go to Steel Sports Leaderboard web site. Under Upcoming Events on the page, click the link for the Martin Dies Adventure Race. You’ll have to register on the site which you can do by clicking on the “New Users, Sign Up Here” link under the login boxes on the left side of the screen. After you register, you’ll be taken to the race list again. Click Martin Dies Adventure Race again, and you’ll see a grid with the list of teams and checkpoints. There’s a chart at the top that shows you color coding for the different events, and it looks like you can see some info about each checkpoint by hovering your mouse over the CP number.

I hope you’ll check in every now and then to see how we’re doing. Please leave me a comment if you do. I appreciate everyone’s support and good-wishes. Cross fingers I make it through! I even got a tetanus shot just in case…

Hope all your adventures this weekend are great!

February 22, 2005

10 Things in the news that bug me:

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 10:53 pm

In no particular order. Well, except number 1. Isn’t there anything else to talk about? I don’t know which is more depressing. It’s either this stuff, or the Iraq war, which I oppose, but not the troops. They’re doing their job.

1) The killing of a 7-months pregnant mother and her 7-year old son. That man is pathetic. This makes me very sad.

2) Michael Jackson’s trial. Who gets the flu “on the way” to court? Puh-leeze.

3) Charles and Camilla’s wedding. It’s laughable.

4) The Terri Schiavo right-to-die case. How long will it go on? The million dollar malpractice money has been spent long ago on the legal wrangling.

5) Paris Hilton. Yuck. Nicole Ritchie. Double Yuck.

6) Steriods in sports. From local high-schools to the major leagues…’roids are back.

7) NHL hockey lockout. As if the players and owners aren’t already rich enough. I don’t care that I don’t have to give them my money.

8) Regular Joe’s affected by the NHL lockout. They can’t afford the rich man’s greed.

9) Jennifer Lopez. She looked fine at the Grammy’s. Maybe it was her performance that made her ill and unable to travel to London for her premiere.

10) California storms. That state is in perpetual ‘storm mode’. Yawn.

February 20, 2005

I learned to “pop a wheelie” today…

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 8:58 pm

And my tushie hurts too…

I bought a new bike this weekend. This is the one I bought, except mine is yellow. I decided that my no-shock, no-quick-release-hub piece ‘o crap bike I bought from Target for a “one-time” use wasn’t going to cut it for the AR I have lined up on Saturday. I don’t know how much we’ll be on the bikes, or even what the terrain is like, but I wasn’t confident enough in the ‘ol purple monster to take it into combat.

I’ve been looking for a new bike for a couple of weeks. Limited budget along with the fact that I won’t use it that often required me to stay on the low-end of all terrain bikes. I also didn’t know what size to get. It’s all very confusing for someone who doesn’t know the lingo. So, I stopped in at Plano Cycling and Fitness and talked with Barry. I told him what I was interested in (the sale bike on their website). Alas, the only ones they had in stock were WAY to big for me. Uh oh. Next price up…ouch! But wait, what’s that? Out of the corner of my eye I saw a pretty yellow bike in the price range I was willing to pay.

So, Barry (an older gentleman, but with a cute Australian (or New Zealand, I can’t tell) accent) let me take it out for a spin in the parking lot of the hotel across the street. The shifters were totally cool, the seat was cushy, and it felt sturdy, and it was the right price. I was sold. So, Barry had the bike shop boys check it out for me to make sure everything was in perfect working order, I picked out a front light and rear light (that in hind-sight I probably shouldn’t have bought, but oh, well), which they installed it for me. Then I slapped my bike rack on my car, loaded up the new 820 and headed home.

Where last weekend was paddling practice, this weekend was mountain biking practice. Yikes! I met some of the team I’ll be racing with on Saturday out at Lake Grapevine, which has some extensive bike trails. They actually have two sets of trails, Horseshoe and North Shore/Rockledge. I’ve never ridden out there before today. So, now in addition to Horseshoe, I’ve also ridden at LB Houston (flat and twisty with lots of trees, very beginner friendly) and Rowlett Creek Preserve, also very ride-able for relative beginners.

After quite a bit of chit-chat and waiting for everyone to arrive, we finally mounted our bikes and went to hit the trails. We stayed on the pavement at first, going over shifting, gears, etc. The shifters I had before were weird, I didn’t know what I was doing, and once I got out of the gear I was in when I bought it, I never knew where I was! These have handy numbers visible. I didn’t even know there was a difference between the left shifter and the right shifter! The left shifter controls the front cassette (near your pedals) and the right shifter controls the rear cassette (on your back wheel). We then dumped onto the trail and the “Oh Craps!” and “Dang Its!” and “Shoots!” spewed forth from my mouth. Really, I was cursing, but this blog is edited for content. 🙂

I don’t like falling or hurting myself. Mountain biking is adverse to this fear. Plus, no one has ever taught me how to ride. Today, Jay (aka Chubby Ewe) was an excellent teacher. He’s been riding forever, and has ridden some pretty extreme stuff from what I gather. I need more lessons from him! I caught on pretty quick to the shifting thing, but roots, rocks, steep ups and downs and narrow trails interfered with my concentration. I scraped off a bit of the dermis from the front of my right shin, but nothing too bad. I also somehow cut the inside of my elbow. Probably a tree. I got off and walked my bike a bit whenever I was too chicken to go down the scary parts. Chubby Ewe said it was ok. He called it “Walking to ride another day”. I felt bad, but hey, I didn’t want to end up in the ER. Unless Dr. Luka Kovac is there. Then I would willing submit to being a patient for whatever ailment I could come up with. Wait. That’s another story.

Then, I learned to “pop a wheelie”. The concept was another one of those things that I thought I didn’t need to learn…since I could hurt myself doing it. But, we set up in a grassy area near the parking lot (not on the trails) and Chubby Ewe demonstrated and explained the technique. Then, we practiced it. Wow! I actually managed to catch on pretty quickly! I was poppin’ wheelies all over! Well, sort of. I did manage to get a few decent ones in. I also practiced riding downhill. This requires standing on your pedals with your pedals even with each other (not one leg up, one leg down) and tucking your behind down behind the seat, directly above the back wheel and using your thighs to steady the bike. This is to help you keep your center of gravity in the appropriate place on the bike in order to not go “endo”. This is mountain bike lingo, and fairly easy to decipher. Going over the front end of your bike. Ouch. Did I mention I don’t like falling? I definitely need to practice this more (on little hills first), but I felt a little better about my “skills” at the end of the day. But, as I previously stated, now my tushie hurts. Gotta build up tolerance to that bike seat!

So, this weekend should be “fun”. I know it will be. I only hope that I don’t hold the rest of the team up too much. I can push myself, but dang! 17 hours! This ain’t gonna be pretty! And hopefully I’ll get the pictures to prove it.

Grab a bike and ride!

February 18, 2005

Extreme Office Cleaning

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 10:38 am

How clean is your office? I must work in one of the cleanest office in the world. I know all offices have cleaning crews, but I’m not used to seeing them in the office during the day. Maintenance crews yes, but not the cleaning lady. Yet there she is…9-5.

Our bathrooms get cleaned at least three times a day. Maybe four. They’re clean in the morning when I get here. Then they’re cleaned again mid-morning. And then they’re cleaned AGAIN, in the middle of the afternoon. This mid-afternoon cleaning also seems to be approximately 30 minutes after I return from lunch. Never fails. No matter how early/late I go to lunch, she’s there when I return. Then, I either have to wait it out or go to the downstairs loo. Three times a day!? We’re not filthy pigs. I’ve never even seen a stray piece of toilet paper on the floor. The bad part is, every time she cleans she sprays that cheap rose-water smelling air freshner. Gag.

She also cleans our coffee area at least twice a day. Spray down and wipe counters, sink, towel dispenser, cabinet fronts, empty garbage, etc. And the garbage is no little pail, it’s one of the giant office bins. We don’t generate that much trash!

And, the water fountains are the most pristine I’ve ever seen. She cleans these every time she walks past them. I almost feel guilty about getting more water! I even try to hold the mouth of my cup to line up with the water stream to prevent any stray drops from marring the dry stainless steel.

I guess this is a good thing since it’s cold and flu season. Kill all the germs. But really, I think this is somewhat overboard. But, I sure wish she would stop by my house and give it the once-over. Two or three times a day.

February 13, 2005

Tyler 25K Race Report

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 10:52 pm

Whew! Well, I made it through another 25K. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but a finish is a finish!

My DH/PC decided he would make the trek with me after all. We have both been on antibiotics this week, but he feeling worse than I. So, we packed up the Jetta with our gear, and made the jaunt across I-20 to Tyler, Texas. We had to check in to the hotel and then pick up our race packets by 8 pm. We made it to the Days Inn just after 6, checked in, and just as we were leaving to pick up our race packets at Tyler State Park, we spotted a fellow racer, LK, from the AT group I train with. (I use the term “train” loosely here. Some people train really hard, every day. I don’t, and my race shows it.) So, we said a quick hello before we headed off.

We got to the park just as it was really getting dark. It was a bit spooky, as once we entered the park, we didn’t see any other cars. The trees were all around, and even with my bright lights on, we couldn’t see very far. DH/PC turned up the Tom Waits CD we had in, and it completed the creepy effect. Weird music. We found the race spot and were greeted by a cute little dachshund, the race director, Paul Stone, and his wife, and another gentlemen of unknown relation. We got our goodie-bags, filled with our race numbers, energy gel sample, race shirt, and flyers for other races. We chatted with the race director for a few minutes and got a little bit of info about the race. We found out that Paul and his wife run the Chapas aid-station at Bandera. I didn’t get to visit them this year because that aid-station is only on the 50K route. Hmmm, don’t know if I’ll ever get to visit them!

We left the spooky-dark park and stopped at the convenience store to ask for directions to go someplace to eat. We were given options that were pretty standard fare, and it sounded like there was a big “loop” that had options aplenty. So, we headed towards Tyler proper. My racer friend LK called me from the hotel just thereafter, and we agreed to meet at the Olive Garden for dinner. So, I started on the Tyler Loop. And we drove and drove and drove around. I was starting to get concerned that we were more and more lost, as we kept passing intersection after intersection with nothing to be seen. Finally, we came to Broadway and found what we were looking for. Olive Garden on a Friday night (Valentine’s Weekend to boot) must have been the place to be. It was packed! Once we got seated, it was difficult to choose which carb-laden meal I would enjoy first. I finally settled on a tomato-based sauce, thinking anything creamy would be too heavy. I also enjoyed some salad. This might have been a bad choice.

We finished our dinner and headed back to the Days Inn. DH/PC and I stopped for some playing cards. Once we got back, we sorted out our gear for the morning, and played a few hands of gin, then a little five card draw. 4 out of 5 hands of gin, and 5 out of 7 hands of poker. I don’t usually win cards against DH/PC, so this was fun. Lights out just after 11 pm. Alarm set for 5 am. Didn’t sleep particularly well as the room was stuffy.

5 am came a bit too early. Threw on some clothes and headed out across the highway to the nearest c-store for some coffee and juice. Finished getting ready for the race, checked out of the hotel, and we headed back to TSP, still in the dark. We stopped back at the c-store across from the park entrance for a last pit stop. We spotted the rest of the gang from AT — LK, AToms, Beckbee, Mark and Di, (DonutMan was already at the race) in the parking lot of the c-store too. Good morning everyone! We were all in a great mood and looking forward to the race!

We arrived at the race location and it was full of cars! No one had been there the night before, so I wasn’t expecting so many people. We parked, decided what we would take/leave. Was it going to rain like the forecast called for? We gambled that it wouldn’t and left the rain gear in the car. DH/PC decided against carrying the energy gels and water bottle. We knew that aid-stations would be fairly evenly spaced, so he was fine with that. I prefer to carry a water bottle, and I had my camel-pack too, since I’m “training” for an AR where I’ll need to carry quite a bit of gear.

Before the Race    DH  Pre-Race Girls

The morning was a bit chilly, so we gathered near the fire pit, and waited for the last-minute announcement regarding the race. Then, we all lined up (me in the back) and waited for the start. Just after sunrise and 7 am, 38 50K-ers and 64 25K-ers stared off. Almost immediately the 50K group split off. They would do 3 full loops of about 10.3 miles. The 25K group ran down the road out of the picnic area, and down a long hill on the park road before we joined onto the trails for a short 5.3 mile loop. We would then run back through the start area and complete a full 10.3 mile loop to finish the race.

I was glad we were running down the hill on the park road. Running up it would have been a hard way to start the race. I ran the first bit with Beckbee, and watched DH/PC dash on ahead with the majority of the pack. Looked like he was just out for a regular ‘ol run Beckbee thought, since he was one of the few not carrying anything. We had to go a little uphill to get onto the trail, so we took the chance to walk and go ahead and take off our jackets. Beckbee got this accomplished before I did, so she took off ahead of me. I would chase her for awhile, but soon she was out of sight. I never would catch her. 😦

Along the Road Fallen Tree Burned Forest

I got to the first aid station pretty quickly, just after 2 miles. The morning was shaping up nice, and even though my ankles were hurting from the big initial downhill, I was feeling OK. This was the best I felt the whole race. Sadly, the feeling quickly faded. The trail was very well marked and defined. The up-hills weren’t too steep, and the down-hills were fairly easy. A few tree roots caught me off guard, and I nearly bit the dust twice on this stretch. I finally made it back to the start and second aid-station. I thought to myself “Hey! I’m a third of the way done. I think I’m pretty close to my goal pace. I should feel better soon and get my pep back.” So, I grabbed a few munchies, refilled my water bottle, consumed an energy gel, and dashed off to complete the 10.3 mile loop.

Burned Forest 2 Eroded Bank Burned Forest 3

I tried to re-energize, sing a peppy song, think positive thoughts, but I just wasn’t feeling right. I hadn’t run in two weeks since I cut the bottom of my foot (I won’t tell you how, it’s just too embarrassing), and I hadn’t felt great all week, and was thusly on antibiotics. I could also try to use the excuse that a front was moving in, and the changing barometric pressure negatively affected my body. Or, since the moon was in the third phase of Venus and Jupiter and Saturn were in their millenial paradox…I don’t know. I just had a hard time! The other thing was that the trail was full of switchbacks. I would run all along the side of the hill, then do a short climb and run back across the side of the same hill. I could see the park road sometimes, and I could see aid-station tents from around the bend. I think this played with my psychologically. I would expect to arrive any minute, and I would never get there. I need to figure out how to prepare for this stuff! That, and I need an MP3 player to listen to. (Anyone that wants to help with this…drop me a line!) Put stuff like “Eye of the Tiger” and the Rocky theme song on it so I can keep my mind off of the trail in front of me. This race had a ban on music though since the trails were open to other runners and bikers too. I always saw them well ahead of time though, and we were running against traffic, so I don’t think it would have been an issue. I was also having quite a bit of pain in my hips that I usually only feel when I run on the road, and my left big toe and front of my left foot were hurting for some reason that I didn’t understand. I hadn’t taken any Aleve before I started, and had none on my person, so I had to fight through it.

Aid-station three was 3 miles into the final loop. They had some Rolling Stones blaring and a big sign advertising a “best legs” contest. I decided against entering even though mooning would have earned me extra points. Again filling up the water bottle, consuming an energy gel, and grabbing half a peanut butter sandwich (alas, no jelly), I toddled off. Just 3 more miles to the next aid station. There was a bit of a hill here. The steepest I had seen on the trail yet. When I got to the top of it, I realized that another hill, even steeper, was immediately ahead. Egads. It was tough both up and down. This is where it got really bad for me. The pain in my hips was getting worse. It was weird, because if I wiggled while I walked (aka “shake my booty”) it felt a little better, but that took too much energy. So, every little bit I would stop and try to stretch my hips a little. It didn’t work. I was watching my time, and I knew I was way off a 15 minute pace. Sigh. Maybe next time. It was at this point that I think I began to imagine things too. I kept thinking I saw little black spiders flitting across the trail, and at one point I brushed up against a low hanging branch that I didn’t see and almost jumped out of my skin. I even thought I saw a bear. A lot of this area had been “control burned” recently, and from the angle that I was at, out of the corner of my eye, a broken, burned log looked like a black bear staring back at me. I even thought I saw a couple of snakes. All my imagination. Silly me. I also bit it a few more times on this stretch. Please let me stay up on my feet.

Snake Tree Flamingo Aid-Station Up the Hill

Arriving at the fourth and final aid station (which happened to be aid-station number one also) I could barely stand. My hips were on fire, and my right knee and ankle were throbbing. Oh, and my fingers again had turned into little Vienna sausages. I still had 4.3 miles to go. I had been passed by many 50K runners, all trotting along like it was nothing. “What the heck am I doing out here!” I kept thinking. I don’t know the answer to that still. Regardless, the only way I was getting off that trail was to finish the race. I could have turned in my race number and been trucked in from the last aid station, but heck!, if Bandera couldn’t beat me, there’s no way Tyler could! “Take it easy the rest of the way in” the lady at the aid-station said. Hmmm, “easy” is not the way the last 4.3 miles of any race should be described.

Sausage Fingers Normal Fingers

I saw the same mountain biker like 4 or 5 times. He was a machine on that bike. Taking steep down-hills blazing fast, and each time he passed me he would should “Good job, runner!”. At one point I also saw a guy resting against a tree. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing until I rounded the corner and saw his girlfriend picking herself out of the briars. Poor thing. Her bike shoes were brand new. First time out maybe. Another pair I passed had recently had a tumble on their bikes. I heard them before I saw them. As I passed, one of them mused “Maybe I should give this up and start running.” I told him “I’ll gladly take your bike and finish this thing!”. I still had a sense of humor!

Waterfall Almost Finished*

Nearer to the finish I was passed by a chatty guy & gal. “Doing the 50K?” they asked as they passed me. “Oh no!” I managed to gasp. “Well then you’re almost done! And you’re not even last. We just passed 3 or 4 25K-ers at the last aid station.” No Way! I thought. I had been sure that I was going to be the last to finish. I had even been thinking the whole last 7 miles how I was going to gracefully accept last place and explain it on my blog. Man, great story line blown! But I wasn’t last! This made me feel a little better. Still stopping to stretch my hips though. It had also started to sprinkle by this time. I could hear more rain than I could feel, being in the trees. And the smell of the rain in the forest was actually refreshing, smooth and cool. I knew I was approaching the end. After the first short loop, there was a brief .75 mile loop to run around before we got to the start/aid-station/finish. I hoped that I wasn’t going to have to do that again. But I did. As I turned the corner, LK, AToms, DonutMan, and Di were there to cheer me on my last little bit. “Do I have to do that .75 mile loop again?” I asked. “Yes.” was the reply. I’m sure I looked totally dejected at that point. I almost started to cry. “But I’m right here!” I whined to myself in my head. “I don’t want to!” But I did. “Suck it up and finish strong!” I thought to myself. It almost worked.

I jogged in the last little bit on the road, around the cars and to the finish. Just over 5:10. Don’t know what my exact time was. Forgot to stop my watch. Doh! Averaged about a 19:45 mile. Faster than Bandera! HA HA HA! Slower than what I had hoped. Maybe if I really start training for these things I’ll get better! Doh!

My DH/PC was sitting by the fire pit by the finish. Poor thing. I knew he would finish way before me, and I almost gave him the car keys, but as he wasn’t carrying anything to hold it in, I couldn’t. He was shivering and cold, even right on top of the fire! He had finished the race in 3:21! FANTASTIC! I thought. I am so proud of him. His first trail run and he averaged a 12:45 mile. He only started running back in November when I challenged him to do the 8-mi Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. He did a great job! Yay! That made the whole day worth while. I was so glad for him that my miserable time and aches and pains didn’t matter. DH/PC kicked some butt! I admit, I got a little choked up. I love my husband.

Great Time! Post-Race Bubbles

We got our finishers plaques after the race. They are dark granite squares with “25K” finisher emblazoned on them. “I want a medal…” DH/PC half-whined. “Don’t worry baby. We’ll do another race so you can have a medal too!” I said. I have my Bandera medal and my WAR medal hanging from my rear-view mirror. A little goofy, but hey, I see them every day and remember that I can accomplish anything. I might have to cry a little and whine and crawl through it, but no obstacle is too great! And I was happy that I got to share this one with my DH/PC. I hope I get to share more of these races with him.

Next race: Feb 26 I’m racing with Team Chubby Bastardos and Team Chubby DeLites at the Martin Dies Adventure Race. This is gonna be interesting. It’s a 12-hour race, meaning the winning team finishes in about 12 hours. Today I found out that Team Chubby finished in 17.5 hours last year. The race starts at 7 am. OMG! What the heck have I gotten myself into!

Next race with DH/PC: Grasslands! This one’s supposed to be fairly flat, but all sand. I don’t think running in sand will be very fun. These are horse trails too, so they’ll be pitted. Good news is it’s only a half-marathon distance! Stay tuned!

*This photo courtesy of DonutMan. Thanks Charles!

February 11, 2005

Tommorrow is Tyler 25K

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 10:14 am

I’m so excited! I’m not hoping to be fast (I haven’t run much in the past two weeks since I cut the bottom of my foot), but I hope to do better than I did at Bandera. I’d like to average less than a 15 minute mile. (Well, in case you haven’t read my blog before, I’m prehaps the slowest runner on earth. And, this is a trail run, not a road run. And it’s 15.5 miles!) That’s my goal anyhow. Mentally I think I’m prepared. I just need to remember to ask “which way now” after each aid station. Wish me luck. A full (long) report will be provided upon my return. I will take my camera and take pictures too. I think that’s something that’s missing from my blog. Pictures. I need to take a lot more of them. There’s just nothing interesting to take a picture of in Plano, TX!

February 7, 2005

Kid-Free Weekend!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 1:47 pm

So, my darling hubby (DH) was so thoughtful at Christmas and gave me tickets to the theater for the rest of the season and three (3) confirmed ‘Dates’ with him! He could have given me dates to McDonalds or Cici’s Pizza or wherever…I got Dates! Because of the kids and various other things (called “life”) we don’t go out nearly enough. OK. I admit, I’m selfish and attention needy. I so try not to be, but if I could have a Date with my husband every night of the week, I would be on top of the world!

Back to the weekend. So, we traded in the subscription ticket for real tickets a couple of weeks ago. The first show was Bad Dates, a one-woman show about shoes and dating. What a great topic! The first time I called to change in the tickets they were sold out! Oh No! I wasn’t going to get a Date! But wait! What’s this? They’ve held the show over an extra week and we can change in the tickets now?! Fantastic! February 5, 8 PM. Perfect!

Next step is to find some poor suckers, I mean grandparents, to take the Kids for the night. Bwah-ha-ha-ha! So, we call DH’s parents and, trying not to sound too desperate, we casually inquire to see if they have plans for the weekend in question. “No plans? You’ll take them?” (Wow, this was easier than we thought it would be…) “What?!?!?! You want them Friday night too? Friday night and Saturday night?” Woo Hoo! *Doing the Happy Happy Happy dance.* Maintain calm in the voice. “Are you sure?” Without sounding too skeptical. “OK then, they’re all yours.”

So, Friday night was really a *ME* night. DH works on Friday nights till late. So, rushing home from work, I managed to find some clean clothes for the kiddos, packed them up, quickly straightened up the house, and waited for Grandpa’s arrival. Woo Hoo! There he is. Kiss the kids. “Behave, mind your manners, remain calm, don’t fight with each other!” I remind them as they run towards Grandpa’s car. “They’ll be fine” Grandpa says. “It’s not them I’m worried about.” I think to myself, waving and grinning stupidly as I realize “I’m FREE!”.

So, Friday night was scrap booking night with the girls. My friends are way more creative and talented at this activity than I am. I use it as an excuse to hang out and drink a beer or two and chat while cutting pictures and paper, using glue and ribbons and “embellishments” and cut-outs to try to make something that resembles a family album that tells a “story”. I am so not good at it. Because of this I also haven’t spent the bazillion dollars on all the equipment and things that would propel my albums into the amazing scrap booking stratosphere. My friend Judy is really good at it, and my friend Michelle is, in my opinion, the Goddess of Scrap booking. Her mother is an artist, and Michelle inherited some great talent. She painted a mural of the Winnie the Pooh characters in her baby-daughter’s room that is absolutely beautiful. She makes these cookies and decorates them with vibrant colors and patterns…they’re almost too pretty to eat! I think she’s very glamorous, with great bone-structure and hair. She would say she’s just “fat and pregnant”. I still think she’s beautiful. So, we met up at Tryna’s house (a friend of Judy’s) and sat and gossiped and drank and cut up pictures with funny tools until about 10:30 or so. That was fun.

DH got home late as usual on Friday night, and I was, as usual, asleep in the Lazy Boy. He managed to bring me to enough consciousness to get me into bed. For some reason, I haven’t been able to sleep in as late as usual. I was up by 8:30 am, which, in my opinion for a Saturday morning, is the crack of dawn. So, I made coffee, read the paper, and waited for Prince Charming to wake up and take me to breakfast. What was that sound? Silence. No kids fighting over which cartoon to watch. Amazing. After DH/PC awoke, we sat in silence for awhile. It was nice, but a bit unnerving for DH/PC, so we put on a CD and jammed to some Blues music for a bit. When we got hungry enough, we put on some clothes and ate a peaceful breakfast at our favorite local ‘Mom and Pop’ place. Then we went to Academy and bought some new running shoes for DH/PC and some soccer gear for our Darling Daughter. DD is starting soccer! Her first practice was this weekend, so we did get to see the kids briefly, but it was ok, because we didn’t have to bring them or take them after! Yay! We also did a bit of shopping at Lowe’s, buying some light fixtures and a mailbox flag. Yes, some brat tried to play ball with our mailbox. We now have a small dent in our mailbox and were missing a flag, until we put the new one on this weekend.

So, Saturday evening. We leave the soccer practice, head home, shower, and get all gussied up to go out for a night on the town. DH/PC doesn’t like to drive, especially at night, and especially downtown. So, I drive us down to the swank area of town. Not really downtown, it’s called “Uptown”. Rich single people and gays populate this area, so it’s spiffy and nice and cultured. We know to go early, because the theater is small and the parking lot is smaller. We get a good spot and head for the Will Call window to pick up our tickets. Evidently a small verbal spat had occurred in the ticket line just before we arrived. Will Call was the middle line, surrounded by a ticket sales line on either side. This show has been very popular, selling out each performance. These people were in line to buy stand-by tickets! Jeez! And evidently these two “gentlemen” had disagreed on something. The ladies in line seemed to be amused at this for some reason. Come on guys! It’s just a show.

After we got our tickets, we glanced around the lobby while we waited for the doors to open so we could take our seats. There was some very strange art being displayed on a wall. We looked at it for a bit, and decided we didn’t like any of it enough to pay the outrageous prices they were marked as. The only one we even liked a little was the least expensive at $975!!! Then we looked around and noticed that except for a couple of college girls, we were the youngest people in the place! I always find it amusing that at the cultural events I attend, such as theater, musicals, ballet, symphony, (I tried one opera. it was depressing) that I see older couples, groups of women, gay men, and moms with kids in tow, determined that their children will not grow up only knowing Playstation as entertainment, while the kids whine that they are bored and wanna go home and play Playstation. Where is the culture people! Live events are so much more satisfying than movies or bars or whatever. It’s an opportunity to dress up (Yes! If you go “out” you must wear something other than jeans and a sweatshirt), enjoy an evening, go to a restaurant that ISN’T a national chain, eat food that is prepared, not just “cooked” and have a conversation.

So, the play started a few minutes late. We were starving (having not eaten since our noon “brunch”). The “stand-by” ticket holders scrambled for seats, and then the show began. I’ve been to a few plays, but never seen a one-woman show. It was a scream! Julie White is a great story-teller. She’s crazy, funny, and has great range. This show had a few serious moments, which I didn’t expect, but fit so perfectly. It’s about life! And shoes! How things happen when you least expect them to. You don’t understand why or the purpose at the time, but after awhile things come full circle and you get that funny feeling that things are just where they’re supposed to be. I enjoyed every minute of the show, and I highly recommend it if it comes to your town! The run-time was only 90 minutes, no intermission.

Because we were starving, as soon as it was over, we trucked out of there and tried to decide where we would go for dinner. My DH/PC is on a sushi kick right now. I took him for his birthday for the first time back in September, and now, any time it’s just the two of us, that’s all he wants to eat. Ugh. I like sushi, but I don’t want to eat it all the time, and I pretty much stick to the “rolls”. I can do most of the raw fish, but I don’t prefer it. So, we drove around a bit, made a U-Turn, and then drove around some more. Then we saw a diner-looking place with neon lights. Truluck’s! This was one of the places my DH/PC had mentioned as a potential dining locale, and we just happened to be passing by? I think not. U-Turn again, and we parked.

Outside it looks like a diner with neon lights. Inside it’s more formal, with dark wood, low light, and an Art-Deco feel. Very romantic. So, the maitre d’ seats us in a booth. The first thing I notice is the rude man screaming into his cell phone at someone about taking their medicine. My impression was that he was a dad yelling at his kid. My husband’s impression was that he was a doctor yelling at his patient. Either way, I was disgusted by his behavior. I felt very sorry for his female dining companion. The yelling went on and on and on until finally the maitre d’ came to his table and told him he would have to quiet down or they would ask him to leave. I know public cell phone usage and manners are a hot topic, and if someone were filming a commercial about what not to do, this would have been the perfect specimen to examine!

After Mr. Rude-and-Boorish quieted down, our dinner was fantastic. We started with a seafood and cheese-stuffed, grilled Portobello mushroom cap for our starter. The mushroom was cooked perfectly, still firm, but warm. The seafood mix contained shrimp and crab, and it was covered in a creamy white cheese. I probably could have eaten a few more and called it a night, but my taste buds wanted to explore other flavors as well. I was tempted by the Caesar salad for my seconds, but instead ordered the Crab Corn Chowder. It was spicy and delicious, pale yellow, with a smooth, creamy base and chunks of kernel corn. My DH/PC ordered the Wedge Salad, which had fresh bleu cheese crumbles, julienne carrots, tomatoes and a vinaigrette dressing atop a true wedge of lettuce. I was lucky enough to snag a bite, and made a mental note to put that on the list for next time. Ordering the entree was an exercise in angst. Everything on the menu sounded good! My DH/PC opted for the house specialty — the Stone Crab, while I opted for the house steak — the Truluck’s Ribeye. Our food quickly followed our soup/salad (like as soon as our server put the plates down and walked away, the plater walked up with the tray), but the server shooed the plater away to let us finish the course in front of us. Once we were ready, our dinners were brought to us. The steak was perfectly cooked to medium-rare, and, thankfully, still warm. It was served with garlic mashed-potatoes that were a bit dry, but flavorful. DH/PC was served with a plate full of pre-cracked crab claws (served cold with dijon mustard) and sides of mashed potatoes and broccoli. My steak was excellently seasoned and full of flavor, especially tender, if not slightly overly-fatty. DH/PC enjoyed his crab claws as well. Had they not been so much work, they would have been perfect. I also enjoyed a lovely glass of red wine. It was a French red, so I can’t spell or pronounce it, although the title did mention “Chateau” and “Haut”. Although we were bordering on “full”, we still opted to view the dessert tray. YUM! Pecan pie, Key lime pie, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Cake…so many choices. We opted for the “centerpiece” of the dessert options. A hollow chocolate “bag” filled with pound-cake pieces, strawberries, blueberries, butter cream and whipped cream. It was so large the server had to cut it up for us at the table. She then mixed all the flavors together. The first bite was heaven. The second bite was rapturous. The third bite was positively orgasmic. I can’t recall a better dessert that I’ve had in quite a long time. DH/PC said it wasn’t as good as the pecan pie at Pappa’s Brother’s Steak House. I wouldn’t know since I’ve not been there. If you live in Dallas and haven’t been to Truluck’s, go there soon. If you don’t live in Dallas, I’m sorry, but if you ever come, be sure to put this place on your list of restaurants to visit.

Arriving home to a quiet house was also well enjoyed. I will not elaborate on the remainder of the evening. Let’s just say it was worth paying for dinner.

We met my in-laws and our kids at church on Sunday morning. I’m not a church-goer, and definitely not a Baptist, yet First Baptist Allen is where I was. The pastor was actually a very good speaker, and the church provided an outline for the sermon on the back of the bulletin. You could take notes and follow along as the pastor spoke, which I found very helpful and it allowed me to “keep up” with where he was going. After the service, we went to Mimi’s Cafe for brunch. Mimi’s has great food, and I especially love their corned beef hash. They put some spices into it that I can’t name, but it gives it a very interesting flavor. I also love their buttermilk spice muffin that comes with the breakfast. Delicious.

After this, we had to bring the kids home. We had some quiet time around the house before DH/PC scooted off to his buddy’s house to watch the Superbowl. I stayed home with the kiddos, did some knitting, and cleaned DD’s new bedroom furniture. It’s new to us, but probably close to 70 or 80 years old. Art deco style walnut I think. Boy, was it dirty.

This was one of the most relaxing weekends I’ve had in quite awhile. I felt a little guilty about not getting in any exercise, but I have all week to do that!

February 3, 2005

WAR-P Race Report — Team Nie-Ny

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 2:05 pm

Another practice race down. This race was ideated and directed by the grand-dame of AT Adventure Racing Gale Torbett. Held at Grapevine Lake’s Horseshoe Park on January 30, it was a wild, wet and wonderful event!

The entire AT Group had been looking forward to this race for some time. Experienced racers were welcome, but it was newbies that we really wanted. Never done an AR before? Come on out, we’ll teach you how! What is AR? It’s a multi-sport event. No race is ever the same, and disciplines per race vary, but it can include some combination of navigation, running/trekking, mountain biking, canoeing/paddling, scootering (this is new — imagine a Razor on ‘roids), ropes (up, down or across), mountaineering and special tests/challenges thrown in.

Over 30 women plus many male volunteers had signed up to race. Then, the weather report came out. Cold and rainy. Yuck. I wasn’t sure if my partner was going to be up for it. I heard a little trepidation in her voice as the day neared and the forecast remained the same. However, I had been careful in my selection of a race buddy. All of my friends are WONDERFUL people, but some of us are more or less athletic than others (I’m somewhere in between, aspiring towards more). “Everyone has their gifts and graces.” an old boss of mine used to say. So, going down my mental list of friends, I marked through several names for various reasons. I then came to my friend Stephanie. Ah Ha! She was in fairly good shape and was a pretty adventurous type I thought. Although I had never heard her talk about athletic events, I thought I would give it a shot. So, I emailed her, and more quickly than I expected, she responded that she would love to give it a try. So, we borrowed our friend Judy’s bike and “saved the date”.

It had been raining since the Wednesday before the race. The ground was pretty well soaked, and a message was posted on the AT Forum that the race would be restricted to the roads for running and biking. We’d still have to go off-road for the nav practice though. I created my “gear list” and sent it to Stephanie. Didn’t want to forget anything! On Sunday morning I got up early (for a Sunday and having gone out to a birthday party the night before) at 7:30 AM, got all sorted, packed and ready to go. Steph got there just around 10 AM, and we loaded the rest of her stuff in the back of my car, threw the bikes on the bike rack and headed out!

We found the race location no problem and quickly figured out we had arrived just in time for the impromptu, quick and dirty nav refresher class. I stayed close to Lee Torbett since I’d taken his full nav class before. Dude was an Army Ranger for years, so I knew he knew his stuff! All the little details quickly returned and I knew we wouldn’t have a problem with this piece of the course. But, during this time, it began raining again, and my fingers and toes slowly numbed up from the cold.

Shortly after the nav classes ended, we had a brief pre-race meeting, set up our TA, wolfed down a PB&J with a bag of Fritos and a Power Gel and then re-grouped for last-minute announcements. “You’re cold now, but once you start moving you’ll warm up, so don’t wear too many layers” on of the volunteers warned. Yeah right. That never happened. The rain continued.

The race started with a special test. One team member grabbed a potato (this was on the equipment list!) and lined up behind a log, while the other team member went down the hill and lined up behind another log. The potato was then placed between the legs of one team member. We had to go over the log, down the hill, between some trees and to our team mate without dropping or touching the potato. If either of these events occurred, it was back to the start line! I finished this leg of the course, and while Steph headed back up the hill with the potato between her legs, I grabbed one of our bikes and moved to the next TA where we were to complete our next special test, changing a bike tire. This was pretty easy. I actually ended up changing the tire on the bike of one of our volunteers since my bike doesn’t have “quick release” tires. (Note to self…get a real mountain bike.) Deflate tire, remove tube from tire, replace tube, re-inflate tire. Done. Whew. Still raining.

Next was the 2-mile “jog”. Grab a poker chip from volunteer and run with it down the path to another volunteer. Yuck. I hate running. During this portion of the course, we also received a lesson in “towing”. Towing is very important in Adventure Racing. This is a team sport, but also for time and place, and you’re only as fast as your slowest team member (note: this will likely always be me!). So, whether running, biking, paddling or whatnot, towing can help the team go faster by utilizing strengths of some team members to alleviate the weaknesses of others. So, one of our fine volunteer-men handed me the end of tire tube (any item such a tire-tube, jacket, rope, actual tow-system, backpack, etc can be used to tow) and “towed” me down part of the jog course. I’m not a good runner. I can run a 12-minute mile, but after the first mile, I’ve got to stop and regain control of my breathing and heart rate. So, with a bit of walking, we completed the drop of the poker chip and the 2-mile jog. All the while, down came the rain.

Arriving back to the TA, we were given our maps and coordinates for 2 nav points to find on the bike. We also received the remainder of our 15 trekking nav points. Didn’t realize we were supposed to plot the two bike points and then head out, so after finishing half of the trek-points, someone figured out that we had been there for a while and clued us in. Duh! We also at this point decided to do a bonus special test. This was worth 30 points on our overall score! One team member had to ride a mountain bike up a hill, at which point the other team member had to catch their bike with the other team member still on it. The team member on the bike then had to bite the end off of a mustard-covered hot dog — no hands! This exercise was called “Bite Me”. Steph gave it a try, and after one taste of mustard told me I was going to have to do it. She hates mustard. So, I grabbed my bike, but being in the wrong gear FELL OFF while trying to head uphill. How embarrassing. Get back on the bike, pedal around, get in the right gear, back to the top of the hill and bite the wiener. Yuck. It was raw and cold. I spit it out.

So, having donned our bike helmets, completed the special test, oriented the map, figured out our general direction and pedaled away. We soon encountered a volunteer who told us to dismount and go find our first bike point. We scurried down the slippery trail, jumped over some dog-poop right in the middle of the trail (note to dog owners — POOPER-SCOOPER!), rechecked our map and clues, and headed into the underbrush. After looking around for a while, we didn’t find it, so re-oriented ourselves on the trail and headed a bit further up. Steph spotted the first point; we grabbed a card (playing card) out of the baggie and scampered back up the trail to our bikes. Remount, pedal pedal pedal, up and down some hills and then downhill till we saw the next dismount marker. Up the slippery hill, around a tree and beside a road (with cars!) then back downhill again, and we found the second bike point. Grabbed another card out of the baggie and then we looked up. We could have headed a bit further down the paved trail and hit the same point. Doh! Note to self…don’t always follow the marked trail. It’s a rule in AR that you can find the nav points any way you want! So, back on the bike, back to the TA. Now raining harder.

Grab a Power Gel, and plot the rest of the nav points. Plotting points is pretty easy, but there were a few “backwards plots” where you had to count backwards from a grid line since the map didn’t have enough grid lines to measure from. Good practice! So, we finished plotting our points. By this time we had been out for just over 2 hours. The rain was coming down harder it seemed, and as we got wetter, we also got colder. Good practice! You never know what race conditions are going to be. These were pretty bad, so give me a pretty day, and we’ll rock! I changed my over-shirt and jacket to try to get a little warmer. The rain was so cold. We studied the map and decided that we would get our points in the order they appeared (not in numerical order) starting with the point closest to the TA. We had just less than 2 hours to try to find 15 points. After a little difficulty starting, we quickly found the first point when we figured out which fence line to study! We were also a little slow in finding the next point, but after that it seemed that we found them no problem. We had to bushwhack quite a bit to find several of the points. At each point we had to find a bottle of nail polish. We had to paint one of our fingernails with the polish to prove that we had been at the point. Some of the points were harder to find than others, and the ones that were harder to find were “worth more” to our final score. Out of 15 points (not including the bike points) we found 11. Points 7, 8 & 9 were very hard we were told, and we somehow over-shot point 11. We looked and looked for 7, 8 & 9, but darkness was setting in and it was raining still, we were soaked and cold, and our time was almost up, so, without those 4 points, we headed back in to the TA.

We came up on another team as we were heading back in, and the 4 of us arrived at the TA, the last two teams in. Good thing this wasn’t for time! We reported in, displayed my multi-colored fingernails and then packed up in the now-dark rain. We finished just as the winner-announcements began. They started announcing last-place first. Two teams had left early. 9th & 8th place down. Expecting to hear our name at any time, I was pleasantly surprised when we learned that we had finished 4th out of 9 teams! WOW! Better than I expected. The first place team got plastic princess crowns and necklaces, and then we all jumped back in our warm cars and headed home. Changing out of wet clothes and into dry ones is not easy in a Jetta that was re-packed in a hurry. I was thankful for my seat-warmers though! Although I didn’t quite realize how cold my hiney was until that “re-heating muscle burn” began to creep in. We managed to make it home in the cold dark rain, with only one near miss. Whoever was driving that white Buick along 121 in Lewisville on Sunday night…WAKE UP!

This was a great race. I hope Stephanie had a great time. She said she would do it again if it weren’t raining. I made a bit of a joke out of that, and I think it hurt her feelings a little. 😦 I’m sorry Steph, I didn’t mean that you weren’t tough enough to hack it! You did great and I’m super proud of you and would race with you again any time. Thanks for daring to go adventuring with me on Sunday.

February 1, 2005

States I’ve been to

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 1:04 pm

I hope states that you’ve just “driven through” actually count. Looks like I’m pretty well travelled when it comes to the US. I need to head out West pretty soon. Also, does a visit to California when you’re 6 months old count? Oh well.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

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