Sunday, September 27, 2009

Victim of an Economic Downturn

I have lost my job. Due to my lack of performance in clerical/ accounting duties, I no longer hold the title of "office babe." That has been passed on to a fortyish old man who has accounting skills. So now I am left without an unpaid job. Do you know what the unemployment is on a non paying job? I'm sure you can do the math, but it isn't very much. Fortunately, I have my well paying job to fall back on. This gives me great comfort in knowing that I have a vacation fund waiting for me during this time of trial. The job transfer was actually very slick. I never really got the axe, Kevin just slowly gave him more and more of my responsibilities for the business. He kept saying "I'm hiring so you don't have to do as much." But I know he was just trying to let me go without a fight. There was actually a disagreement when I found that the new guy had not sent out an invoice. Ha! I was indispensable. But when it really came down to it, I didn't want the job. I was forced into it by an entrepreneur who saw me as cheap, easy labor. I'm much more adept at sticking someone with an IV than going through all those crinkled up receipts. I'm going to chalk this one up to Obama.
P.S. For those of you reading my blog, you can now post comments.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Do You Haboob?

What is a haboob?
A. Popular term , probably meaning "believe"
B. A type of biscuit made from rolled oats and jumbo oats
C. An intense sand storm
D. Money making opportunity

The correct answer is: C & D
It used to be just C for our family, but now for Kevin's business, it's both. Living in the Southwest is a peculiar thing when our storm comes in the form of dust. Very pleasant. This storm was when Dillan, Chloe, Sharon (Arizona Grandma-no relation to us, but we filled a vacancy that she had) and I were on our way to see Wicked.
Now haboobs can be very interesting to watch as you observe the dust rolling in across the valley or on the news in the comfort of you confined space.

But when you have to get out of your car and walk through it on the way to an event....a little less interesting, more irritating.
We had to walk through this, so I told Chloe to close her eyes and I would guide her through it. Up there in the left hand corner is Gammage Auditorium, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I know he's a legendary architect, but I am not a fan of this building. For starters, the rows are one continuous long row of 100 seats, so say you are in the center and need to get a snack/ drink, you have to squeeze past everyone, because of course, it was designed at a time when people were smaller, so there is little leg room. Then if you are seated in the balcony, the grade is steep so as you are squeezing past everyone, you feel as though you could pitch sideways and fall in the row down from you. Not that I'm complaining. I think if I did fall, I could get a large sum from the FLW estate due to poor design.

Now all of you non Phoenix residents can wow you friends with the use of the term "haboob" whenever you can bring it up in conversation, such as "Wow, when I got to the beach, the kids were so excited to be there, their running caused a haboob!" You're welcome.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Romantic Rim to Rim Getaway

We made it! And I mean the trip around the canyon in the shuttle. Picture twelve people crammed into a fifteen passenger vehicle that has gone around the canyon with lots of other stinky hikers all compressed in the vehicle and you can imagine the smell. When I first sat down, I felt nauseated from the smell, which really says a lot for me because, after all, I spent five years in the burn unit, so I have bad smell experience. Fortunately, the driver, who had a rotund belly and I prayed that the heart attack would wait until I was out of the vehicle, was a speedy driver, so the trip took four hours instead of the advertised five hours. We ate dinner at the historic Grand Canyon Lodge, the only lodge on the north rim. The food came out a little too quick, leaving Kevin and I to wonder if it wasn't sitting under the heating lamps. It was okay, but the view was fantastic. The above picture is in the lobby of the lodge. I thought a mule statue was so fitting for this canyon. We went outside and took some pictures:

It was at this point that the bats came out and were flying a little too close for me and I high tailed it back to the Western Cabin that we were staying in. They should have named it Spider Lodge instead. I was not happy when Kevin says "Look at that spider! It's humongous. It has all these colors." Being the good husband that he is, he removed it. With my hiking pole. There was another spider in the bathtub in the morning, but I had already decided the next time we go, we are not staying in the rustic cabin.

The shuttle was due to leave at 5:15 or 7:15 am. Neither one was a good option since, one was too early and the other too late, so we opted to walk down the two mile road to get to the trail head.

Yep, that way to the trail head. It was chilly at the top, probably 50 degrees. Brrrrr! That's why I'm wearing my jacket. But we warmed up quickly then we had to find a place for it.

This was my view the whole descent. I mean Kevin's backside, which at one point asked if his pack made his butt look big. Not likely to ever be a problem for him. Don't worry, he gets me back(side). We saw a funny squirrel that we tried to get a picture of that was dark brown and had a super bushy white tail. No, it wasn't a skunk.

We hit the first look out point where one can take pictures or bird watch: We chose to keep going and not look for any birds. It was a lot of downhill, and because the grade is relatively steep (average is 21%), we ran most of the way down because gravity takes over. Fine by me, as I was trying to achieve a PR for the trail. That means a personal record. I know, I've never done it before, but I wanted to set the bar high for the next time, or just so I could brag to my friends who would then look at me in amazement at the physical feats I am able to achieve. But then again, most of my friends have already achieved their own PRs for other things that I will never do. I digress! These are a few of the pictures that I took on the descent.

Kevin and changing leaves. We don't see this in Phoenix. We had to stop.
The tunnel of love!
This is a good example of my downhill view. Kevin way ahead propelling me forward. It's because of him that I was able to finish as quickly as I did. If he hadn't kept my forward progression, I would not have done so well. It is an analogy for our marriage as well. Not that I intend on finishing our marriage quickly, the forward progression, I mean, toward a goal with him being the example and catalyst.

It's kind of blurry but Kevin took this picture of us trying to get the waterfall in the background.

I tripped several times trying to keep up with him. No falling, but I knew that I was going to lose my right big toenail after a couple of hard hits to the toe.

We made it to Phantom Ranch in 3 hours and 45 minutes, which included a fifteen minute break. I will do the math for you. That's four miles an hour with a twenty pound pack. Not bad. Next time will be faster.
We have now started our ascent and this is Kevin's view. I heard that Emily! I changed my clothes at Phantom Ranch because they were soooooo sweaty. I started feeling like I was getting heat exhaustion, so we stopped in the shade as we were going through Devil's Corkscrew so I could cool down a little. Talk about frustrating! I really wanted to push forward, but I was a dutiful wife and listened to my husband. If you stop and rest, it will help you go further for longer. He's right, as usual. It was hot, the temperature at Indian Garden said 108 degrees, but I think the added seven miles from the south rim trails only hike made a difference in my level of exhaustion.
Me at Indian Gardens (pronounced In-jun Gardens if you are from Idaho). No mules! That was the best part! No mules on the trip out that I had to try to pass up. After here, I got my second wind and Kevin told me to push ahead. I did, of course, because I really wanted to do it in less than nine hours.

Storm rolling in! Only got sprinkles.

Almost there! A couple of stories from the trip. One was a woman who was so impressed with my feat that she took my picture to put in her journal. The other is, I kept seeing bare foot prints on the trail as I was hiking out. I could not believe that someone would hike in bare feet. Then I came upon the man, and I said You're the one hiking without shoes! He said that his friend's had broken, so he gave him his shoes! I told him he was a wonderful man.

This is a list of the casualties: All toes except the 2nd toe on each foot and left little piggie. WARNING: The following image may contain content offensive to sensitive viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
That is not a strawberry on my toe, it is a blister, which I popped. Fortunately, I was prepared and did not let the blister juice squirt all over, like it did in Myrissa's car one time.

As soon as I got out a little ahead of Kevin, I went to the General Store and bought a bag of Oreos and INHALED 3/4 of the bag in about five minutes. No joke. AND THEN, when Kevin and I went to dinner a short while later, I ate almost all of the bread from the bread basket. It was very tasty corn bread, but I could not believe how hungry I was! That night I slept for ten hours! Another amazing feat!

In the morning, we had a tasty (the best of all three GC meals) breakfast at the El Tovar, then a couple of pictures.

That's me pointing to where we had come from. The canyon to my right is the North Kaibab trail and then if you look down by my hip where there are trees, that is Indian Garden and Devil's Corkscrew by my waist.
Kevin having some "alone time" with the canyon.
This is where we stayed on the south rim:

We came home through Sedona and even stopped at a trout farm for some fishing. Talk about fun! One of Kevin's fish he caught.

Sedona storm coming!

It was a fabulous trip, even if I am sore in my hips, quads, back, and my chances of a pedicure in the next year are zero, and I feel like I've worked a night shift. That's a weird feeling when you slept ten hours the night before. I think our next Grand Canyon trip will be North Kaibab trail in and out in one day, which is 28 miles round trip. Am I a glutton for punishment? Looking for any excuse to get away? A champion athlete? Maybe all or none of these, but I do know I am looking forward to the next round.

And a big shout out goes to Grandma for babysitting the children AND keeping them alive (big bonus). We are very grateful to her to allow us these indulgences and allow us some together time.

My PR for a Grand Canyon rim to rim is 9 hours and 30 minutes with two and a half hours worth of breaks, which is seven active hours for a speed of 3.42 miles per hour. It will be broken.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's Almost Time To Go!

I am counting down the hours until we head out of town on our "romantic" weekend getaway. That's what Jen called it this afternoon. The romance for me will be leaving cell phones and children behind. I would sign up for these marathons more often if I could just for those benefits. NOT THAT I DON'T LOVE MY CHILDREN! Because, of course, I do, but it is so refreshing to leave. Then I can appreciate them more.
I have packed light, which means, my pack at this point only weighs eight pounds, but that number will rise as I add my water, cameras, and make up. The weather is expected to be good. The high at the Grand Canyon rim will be 80 degrees. Now, in the canyon is waaaay different. The bottom is about the same temperature as Phoenix, which the high is expected to be 104 degrees. And from what I have read from past rim to rim hikers, there is a seven mile stretch on the North Kaibab Trail (the on that we are descending) that feels like a parking lot in Phoenix. Interesting. I can't wait to get through that part. I am so excited and hopefully ready. Kevin thinks that I need a shell to wear in case it rains, which is very likely since we are still in haboob season.
This has nothing to do with the hike, but, of course, this is my blog and I can do whatever I want. On Tuesday, Kevin went to the Diamondbacks game with one of his friends. When he came home he said, "You and I really need to start going to those games together." Awww. I thought for sure that he meant he wanted me to go with him so he could parade me around like a trophy wife, which seems to be what people do around here at professional sporting events, like he said Dan Majerle had who was sitting by him. No, that's not why he wanted me there. It was because he saw a couple in their fifties and the woman was rubbing the man's ears while he watched the game. Kevin thought that this would be heaven!
Even though this is a short entry, you may now post a comment on my blog. Please keep it clean (Julie, that means you)! And please, no personal attacks. I am far too delicate to take it. After all, I am a little underdeveloped.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

There's A Room in the Inn!

Okay, it's really a lodge that we are staying in, but it's just more fun to say room in the inn. Of course, when I told my witty friend, Myrissa, she said That means you're no Mary. Very funny. She elaborated on how I wasn't a Mary. After two days of endless calling and checking the website, a Western cabin opened up for my dear husband and I. This means we get a cabin "nestled in the pines" with a possible view of the canyon. I'm just glad it's not the lobby view. I celebrated the sealing of the deal, as it were, with a trip to REI and new trekking poles and Camelbak bladder. Kevin protested me getting the poles because he said that was his one hope of keeping up with me. This is coming from he guy who won the first 10K he ever ran. I don't mean the first time he ever ran a race, I mean the first time he EVER RAN. Up until that point, he hadn't wanted to run because he felt that he would lose weight and be too skinny. So, he is a natural athlete at every sport he does, and he hikes frequently. He just hiked Estes Park in Colorado last month. I know this is the reverse of what we will be doing, but nonetheless, he will beat me on the descent, while I plan to beat him on the ascent. Either way, it's time alone. Can't beat that.
Now comes the final preparations. I've been doing the bleachers in the morning and the treadmill routine. I don't like hiking the local steepish trails around here because it's more like a singles bar on the trail than a training experience. The girls get all made up and are in skimpy outfits and there is a heavy scent of cologne. Ick. I have my new equipment. But now here comes the really tough part. For me at least. Due to the logistics of the feat, we can only take what we will be carrying in our packs on our trip around the canyon from the south to the north, meaning, I will have to carry minimal beautifying products. I know what you're all thinking, What beautifying products? I know it looks like I am a natural beauty, but it takes A LOT to make it look this effortless. Just ask my sisters. This will cut down on my prewaking Kevin up getting ready, but still, it's very tough to whittle it down to just the necessities. Plus, I don't want to pack pajamas and all that. I won't even tell you what my RSP suggested! A little PG-13. This is the biggest challenge of the whole trip. I may change my mind after, but for now, this is it.
As a postscript to the last entry, I forgot to mention a sacrifice my mom was willing to make for us to watch the children. She will be missing the Howdy Neighbor Breakfast. I do not really see this as being a problem since she knows everyone in the neighborhood and they know her, but still, it is an event I'm sure she would love to be at.
There are 10 days until we leave. Tomorrow I'm going to rip another link off of my paper chain.