Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alpine Slide -I'm Totally Wearing A Dress Next Time!

Making my way through the line at the Alpine slide at Mt. Hood Oregon, I couldn't help but  notice the two young women about 10 people ahead of me, wearing long dresses, cuddling with their boyfriends, who by the way got to wear whatever behooved them for the day and of course comfortable to slide in.  I'm sure you have seen these homemade outfits before in a certain community that holds great honor and pride in wearing homemade long dresses in public and a doily pinned to their head.  I actually really felt bad for these girls that they couldn't just be free and wear what they wanted or what was best fitting for a zooming ride down the alpine slide.  Anyway, a fleeting thought of concern, and then they were gone up the chair lift to take their turn, but I still wondered if it will even be fun for them, considering how they are dressed.  
About 10 minutes later I'm on the chair lift looking down at the slide below watching people with various techniques and speeds going down the slide. When not sweating about the fact we were riding on a chairlift built in 1958 dangling from a cable over sticker bushes, I was again watching people and giggling at the slide goers that were frustrated they weren't' going very fast, evidently not realizing they were holding down the brake.  I also took careful mental notes to be sure to adjust my shirt before sliding so that I wouldn't be the victim of unfortunate angles down my shirt from onlookers above, not that I was looking down people's shirts, just taking note.  
This note taking was abruptly interrupted by what I saw blazing down the slide at about 80 mph.  It was the girl in the long dress and doily!!! She was making smoke down that slide, doily in tact, and packing heat!   Thirty seconds later her friend, also wearing a dress and doily, clocking a similar time, came "screaming" down the slide with the determination of an Olympic luge champion and the look on her face saying "who said I'm living in religious bondage, I'm free.. even if I did have to make this dress and doily and never can wear my cute jeans with my boyfriend around, I'll just let him do inappropriate things through the dress (true story near the snack shack) and no one will notice or care, not even God because He knows I'm just "sowing my wild oats" and I'll pick Him back up off the shelf later..here I am world!!!!"  Ok, I don't know if she was really thinking that, but I sure was thinking "darn I wish I would have worn a dress and doily if it makes me go THAT fast down the slide".   I wore long pants and and a blousy shirt, that sadly made me go slow (partly because I had to drive with one hand using my other hand to conceal possible bad angles like my notes reminded me)  Oddly enough, the girls were much faster than their boyfriends who were wearing long jean shorts, white knee high sweat socks and "gangsta" shirts.  Probably more symbolism there, but I cant' think of how to tie that in.  However, I sure learned a lesson and next time the handmade dress is coming out! I might even pull out a doily from the antique sideboard in the dining room for the added touch.
 "Long Live the Doily!!!"
On a side note, The Mt. Hood Adventure Park is super expensive for what you get, and my son said  "I made a terrible choice for my birthday".. sad :(  Sorry Mt. Hood better adjust your prices to fit the needs of your peeps. I mean really.. it's not all about you. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Night Girl Becomes Early Riser!

Today I woke up early.  It was painful and slow, but after getting into my jeans yesterday and finding the once "loose by noon" jeans didn't loosen up, I realized it was time to see what happens in the morning while I'm normally sleeping.  I've noticed that people who typically exercise in the morning are the gaunt people you know, the ones that can shop at the Black House -Black Market and leave smiling.  I have never been one of those people.  Actually, even if I was able to fit into those barbie clothes I'd most likely walk out with the only thing I can afford which would be way in the back section on the floor crumpled in a corner marked "damaged". 
While walking today, I had an epiphany that perhaps all of these years I might have been more effective doing exercise in the morning while getting no results as a night exerciser! WOW, imagine if that was really the key, I mean a few weeks ago my jaw was practically locked and while eating yogurt and soup for 3 weeks I lost 1lb!!!  (Imagine the scene when I rebelled against that discovery).

I'm really hopeful this is the key and if anyone knows me well understands that I have a lot these epiphany's that seem to jump start a new idea and then a few weeks later fizzle out, so I'm really going to try and make this experiment work and if it does, I might just be the new late night,, moody, gaunt girl at this years Christmas Party but man I'll look good in my White House-Black Market pants and top, of course purchased from the reject rack and finally affordable!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Water Park Gives Mom of 3 a Wedgie

Nothing like a water park on a hot summer day. On our recent vacation we just had to visit the nation’s largest water park Water World in Denver Co. I’m usually game for a great amusement park with wild roller coasters, but this was a much different feel. Obviously, at a water park you get to wear your swimsuit while cruising all over the park and you remain quite drenched the whole day, boy doesn’t that sounds enjoyable? If that isn’t enough you get to climb up stairs in your suit while waiting in line, and also adjust your suit in front of everyone after going down a fast blazing slide. I shopped diligently and carefully for a suit that would facilitate water sliding and modesty which is not an easy undertaking. Others at the park seemed to think the skimpiest suit was the better choice for the day including 2 European men in their strange little “mama underwear trunks” who caused gasps throughout the line quickly finding out that in America board shorts are the only acceptable suit for men in public or anywhere for that matter.

For some reason water, flip flops and me don’t do well together. The view from the top of the raging waters slide was me and my family attempting to get in to a giant 5 person raft. Things quickly turned eventful for the people in line watching, when the strange lady (me) loses her balance and is now bouncing off the side of the raft and rolling around in the shallow rushing water. I’m laughing awkwardly, my family is laughing and as I stand up and say “sorry for the wait” some guy in the line yells “that’s ok we’re enjoying the show” which then I decide to just roll back in the raft leaving all social gracefulness aside getting the heck out of there. My husband was so proud of his bride choice at that moment.

It’s amazing what looks perfectly doable turns into a moment of regret such as deciding to go down what I now call the “wedgie warrior" slide, where extreme suit adjustment is necessary and viewed by horrified chuckling onlookers. Sadly, my modest suit and cute sporty skirt suit cover were no match for the “wedgi warrior” which brought to mind what the Europeans must have gone through. I did feel a little out of place with no piercings or tattoos, but it was a fun day especially for the kids and wedgie or not that made it worth the ride (although next time I’m wearing man shorts over my suit).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh Yay a free trip at 10k feet!! In the Death Tube Of Destruction!!!

I’m writing this blog at 10k feet above Idaho in a 10 seater plane. Normally, I would not choose this form of transportation but when it was offered as a mode to get me and my family to summer vacation in CO and then driving and RV to Yellowstone from there, that’s a no brainer.
I’ve had a fear of flying since the early 90’s. It was at a time in my life I was looking for a job or career and decided flight attending looked, well,… easy and fun and what could be more exciting than flying all over the world making money while serving pop (or “soda” for you non Oregonians) . I had flown several times in college for sports and half way around the world to Australia my sophomore year of high school, but for some reason the college trip to Scottsdale AZ left deep scars, after landing awkwardly and having suitcases fly out of the overhead compartments. What on earth made me decide to fill out an application for flight attendant two years later, is beyond my understanding.

I soon ripped the application up realizing after an easy flight to LA that summer, it was not normal to grab the passenger next to me and slam my foot to the ground on our approach (in order to help the breaks work of course). The guy next to me was actually ok with the attack, but I realized that this might be in issue if my job as a flight attendant was compromised by me attacking passengers, heavy breathing and screaming “SAVE YOURSELF”.

As life has it, planes can’t be entirely avoided, so now when booking a flight I only go places where the safest plane travels to. That said, I have traveled only on the west coast so I can take Southwest or Alaska (I have recently learned those planes do go other places than south and to Alaska). Alaska was tainted on my list of acceptable flying options after the 1991 crash at Santa Barbara, but it is always a the second option.

When I do fly I am constantly aware of any bumps or jolts as well as watching the many faces of the regular business travelers knowing to them this is much like jumping on a city bus commuting to work (only it is 30k feet in the air!!!). I watch carefully for any eyes that suddenly wake from a slumber and are open wide. Heads looking around is another clue that there is discomfort, and of course the nervous half smile half laugh that appears in times of danger. Constantly watching for the wing to pop off or the thin tip of the end of the wing shaking as it cuts through the wind is usually unsettling. Throw in the terror alerts and the people who I am creating a profile on… (I know, I know, but there are some hats, facial hair, eyes, TURBANS, that just cause me to wonder) I’m a mess of nerves. Only to get teary eyed when we are finally are on the ground completely stopped feeling like I have a new lease on life. Wondering what shall I do now with this new found freedom on land? I leap into the air and twirl yelling… I’m going to be a better mom, wife, maybe exercise more, make great meals, take a class, go on facebook and find my 1st grade teacher cause I know she’ll care and want to know her efforts AND the Dick and Jane books did paid off, and I am a survivor! (Back to current life threatening airplane ride taking place) “Oh good, we are landing! Buckle up everyone!"

(1/2 hour later) So we made it to our first pit stop, but it was brief and at a small airport near Salt Lake city that looks like 1970’s smoking lounge. Homemade (with love) sandwiches are consumed and we are back in the death tube of destruction. I gotta tell ya, pilots do a lot of “look ma no hands” action. I had no idea and will be reporting that to the plane owner!

Oddly, at this point in the trip, this plane seems more safe than the big 747’s. I’m thinking it might have something to do with the fact I know what is going on at all times and can choose to listen to the tower talking to us. I can see that the pilot cares and isn’t dozing off or overshooting the target city because he is gambling on his laptop. It would be such a nice feature on the commercial jetliners for us fearful travelers to be able to hear the control tower be in control... The word “clear”, “Roger”, and “Confirm” are such nice things to hear over the airways. I think I’d really feel a lot better if my mind wasn’t wandering all the time thinking “ok do they know we’re coming in? Is the runway clear?

Meanwhile here on the little plane, we’re heading into a cloud right now that looks a little small, and there is lightening so I think cloud= turbulence and that might change the whole enjoyment of this adventure (BUMP)…Yep!!!!… I HATE THIS.. WHY DID I EVER DECIDE TO GET IN HERE.. THIS IS THE DUMBEST IDEA, I DON’T CARE IF IT WAS FREE WHAT WAS I THINKING!!! RADAR SHOWS GREEN AND RED SPOTS AND WE’RE HEADING OVER THE ROCKIES. NICE……..OK, I NEED TO CONCENTRATE ON STAYING ALIVE.

(½ hour later)

So we made it, but here is how it went down.

Shortly after I closed the computer from blogging-to stay alive I hear..“I’m gonna be sick” from the “co-pilot” (my middle son). He was once enjoying this spectacular view. Thankfully, I brought some giant black trash bags for our planned return trip so I run to the back and grab the trash bag hand it to “co-pilot” who began hurling his lunch that we just ate in Ogden Utah (so glad I got up extra early to make sandwiches). Suddenly, like frat boys at a party, one after another, my family began to say “I’m going to be sick” and black trash bags are flying out of the box as fast as I can go all while trying to keep my own lunch down and not think about the fact we are 12k feet in a metal tube going towards tall mountains, diverting from lightning and bouncing around through down drafts. I sit down, look back, and all of them have their faces in black trash bags throwing up continuously. The cabin begins to fill with a nice stench. Those mountains are absolutely breathtaking however I’m praying we make it through the small window straight ahead through the peaks, which I ask the pilot if that is going to happen. With all the chaos I almost forget to video my last moments, and If we do all survive I’ll want everyone to see the Rockies they missed while looking into a trash bag.

Once over the Mountains, thinking “Ahhhh we made it” which I then see the weather in Denver CO and it is terrible. We get diverted a few times and circle waiting our turn to land.

As we approach the runway, we are getting so much wind and down drafts it is tossing our little plane around and I really begin to wonder if we are going to pull back up or go for it and roll around on the runway. We go for it, with the pilot wrestling with the controls to keep the plane parallel. We approach the runway he lands on one wheel slightly tipped to the left and then we tip to the right and land. I was sure grateful for a pilot that knew how to handle that sort of situation, it was pretty impressive. The original plan was for the pilot to fly right back to Portland but he decided that wasn’t safe.. uh yeah. Gosh, maybe I would’ve cut it being a flight attendant! Below are actual slow motion snaps of my face during the turbulent storm....lol


Friday, July 2, 2010

Yellowstone Needs To Be ROPED OFF!!!

First let me tell you this is not a safe place to visit. Entering the park a sheet of paper is handed to us and the park ranger says in her toothy grin “Welcome to Yellowstone, please give me $25 and enjoy your stay, here is some valuable survival information." Suddenly, a flashback from Jurassic Park comes to my mind. The fear is immediately escalated when the little yellow pamphlet I’m reading reads “100 wildlife animals are killed each year by drivers driving too fast! Stay at 45 miles per hour!! Look lady this park is huge and we only have a day and a half, at 45mile per hour that just isn’t going to cut it, we have a huge area to cover in a short amount of time, but thanks for the warning. The other warning…Bears! and a LIST of instructions of how to keep safe avoiding an attack. How about this idea… don’t go into to areas where there are bears at all! Next, a road sign with a wild bison GORING a person from behind reads “don’t approach the Bison..” noted! BE WARE falling rocks, Don’t step off the path around the hot pools of boiling magma and ATTENTION all guests you will be driving on a volcano!!.. What in the world are we doing here! This whole place needs to be roped off!
The first thing we notice (as we are going 46 miles an hour) is the strange lack of darting wildlife or ANY wildlife for that matter. Evidently, the director of the Yellowstone animal program was off the day and forgot to have someone else queue the animals to come out. After about 40 miles in, we finally see Bison, one very large Elk and a darting doe, but we see many of those darting deer in Oregon so I’m expecting a little more bang for our buck people! After realizing 45 miles/hr was not going to get us to the northern part where the wildlife must be having a party, we stumbled across visitor center. Inside were many wild animals to look at, FINALLY, and up close, only they were dead and stuffed. The local taxidermist must be the big guy on campus around here! At least we know at ONE time there was living wild life in Yellowstone. After a few days on the road journeying to Yellowstone and now driving through this massive region we are convinced the tourism industry would cash in on travelers, who are parents, if they sold a little care package of Spanish coffee and ear plugs. For instance making our way through only half the park and hearing:

CHILD: What was that thing that explodes?
PARENT: A Geyser
(15 minuts later)
CHILD: Are we going to see… wait what was that called?

PARENTS: A Geyser
CHILD: oh yeah, are we going to see more?

PARENTS: yes
(15 miles later )

CHILD: Are those the Glaciers?

PARENTS: they are called Geysers!!!

So you can see after that conversation and many miles of the age old “are we almost there” people start to go a little nuts. It was the moment I heard in the back one of the boys making up a song “Hey girl… I think I love ya.. Hey girl…you are awesome… hey girl…”-- "OK! we needed to find another tourist trap fast”. We found the grand canyon of Yellowstone (above) which is absolutely stunning. One guy even said to his entire group “see I told you this was the money shot” sadly the guy must not have realized there was a whole gift shop up the road with his “money shot” already being marketed. If only he journeyed with the early settlers and had a camera with him or a paint brush. Poor Guy, probably feels like me always a a day late dollar short.

Alarming to see a parent who thought it was a good idea to let their child, (a new walker none the less) walk freely around spewing hot geysers. Now that’s a good idea!!! “Say there.. did anyone see where little Hugo went? He was just right here standing next to this bubbling pool of hot minerals?"

Old Faithful was once again faithful, but we did see a rare eruption of the beehive geyser that only erupts every 5 days or 10 hours (see photo), and after about a 20 minute wait BOOM it went off, winning the face off between my youngest son who was just complaining that it was never going to go off and “whennnarewegonnago” wining. We then waited patiently for Old Faithful to give us her performance. Evidently, after an earthquake a few years ago, she goes off about every 90 minutes. BUT, if you want to see something else erupt earlier than that, just go to the front desk hotel reservation clerk between eruptions and watch tourists ask her “when is old faithful going to go off”? Apparently, when she signed up to work at the “Old Faithful Inn” for her college summer job, she didn’t see the fine print in her welcome packet reading:

“You will be working by the famous geyser “Old Faithful” where travelers come from near and far to see this world famous volcanic event and pay lots of money to stay here which helps pay your wage, giving you a job and a free ticket to party with other summer staff. Be sure to smile and at least "ACT" like you care, as you witness the hourly spewing of 7th wonder of the world (all while getting paid which you will most likely take for granted by hour 3 because, well, you are 20) keeping in mind some guests just missed the last spewing and will be super excited and wonder when the next spew will take place. Please tell them this information without an attitude. (since the time is tracked for you and no math is required on your part) After-all this is what we do here and why we track the geysers for our guests and take their money for various goods and services, All you have to do is open your big toothy grin and tell them what time the explosion is estimated to happen all without an attitude…okay? Okay then…. Have a great summer! -Yellowstone Resort President.

Then it happened, I overheard the most shocking question by one traveler who I heard in the bathroom asking another older traveler “Excuse me, we haven’t seen Old Faithful blow yet and have and 8 hour drive back, is it worth it to stay?” If only I could see the other lady’s face, but heard her dumfounded response (said in a Texas accent) “well yer here, you should see it”. Giggling from the 3rd stall over I thought “are you kidding me? did she really just ask someone is it worth it to see a spewing geyser that the state of Wyoming has built a whole resort around with bleachers surrounding this massive hole, where postcards, blankets, cups, videos, and grumpy summer college staff find out that they don’t get to push A big red button for any of the geysers to go off, that the earth gets to decide the timing, and you ask is it worth it? Honey, go get your free Spanish coffee, take your seat and relax!

Leaving the park in one piece and without any wild life attached to our hood, we were amazed by what we saw, even though a very dangerous place, we thought it was worth the risk. “Hey Mom and Dad what were those things called that exploded”? “GEYSERS!!!