Wednesday, June 30, 2010




MySpace Video

That's footage from Ike, which blew through here a couple of years ago.  The voices belong to me and my friend.  We went out to take video earlier and locked ourselves out of the house at the height of the storm - not the most intelligent thing I've ever done...

My daughter was more traumatized than I thought.  I'm having a difficult time convincing her all we'll get from Alex is rain.  She wants to know if the electricity will go out.  Of course I can't guarantee it won't go out at all, but it's not going to be out for days or weeks.  Some people had no lights for a month.  Hurricanes are not fun, that's for sure. 

She's worried about driving to school tomorrow.  I told her if there's any water on the road not to drive through it.  She said, "What am I supposed to do?  Just stop?"

"Yes,"  I replied.

She gave me the annoyed teenager glare.

"Turn around.  Don't drown."

"How can I turn around?  There will be people behind me."

"They'll be turning around, too."

At least there isn't a river she can get swept into between here and school...I don't think... 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No Place Like Home

There's No Place Like Home, originally uploaded by jessica...
Image from Flickr.

I'm back, safe and sound...and very tired. Posting as I was traveling proved to be very difficult. I've got lots of material for new blogs, but I doubt I'll post in the Day 1...Day 2 format. I'll just start posting stories from my trip instead. I tried out new backpacking gear in Colorado, visited some national parks, and drove to Memphis for a benefit concert organized by Zach Myers of Shinedown.

My trip wasn't supposed to last this long. It was just supposed to be a quick weekend trip to the marathon, but my backpacking trip got rescheduled from May to June. It didn't make much sense to drive all the way home to Houston and then immediately drive north to Colorado, so I hung out in Moab for a few days. Then Zach organized the concert in Memphis for a few days after backpacking, so I added a side trip.

This is the first time I left my daughter home alone for more than a few days. She got a lesson on making grocery money last. I had hidden a blank check in the house for her just in case, but she didn't need it. The house was cleaner than I left it, too. She did pretty well.

Today will be spent lying around on the couch, reading blogs, and NOT traveling anywhere.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 4: Utah Valley Marathon

June 12

We had to board the buses to the starting line between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m., so the hotel put out breakfast for us at 3:00.  It was bananas, muffins, cold cereal, etc, which is perfect.  Believe me, you don't want greasy sausage or anything heavy in your stomach during a race. 

I forgot to pack my number belt with the pouch for my nutrition, so I safety pinned my Gu to my tank top.  It was actually easier to get to this way.  I just tore it off as I needed it, no need to unclip.  I may start doing this from now on.  I used KT tape on both knees, dressed in layers, and headed out.  It was cold and rainy, so I was happy I threw in an extra rain jacket at the last minute.  I had found a set of jacket and pants at Gander Mountain for $9.99 and someone else at the starting line found an almost identical jacket at REI for $4.99.  At that price, I won't mind tossing it at mile 5 if I no longer need it.  

We huddled next to fires at the start until the gun went off around 5:30.  It was mostly downhill, through the canyon.  The full marathoners passed me near the end.  Almost every one of them had a few encouraging words as they passed.  I finished, and now have a 4th medal to add to my collection.

 I think I saw the Kenyans in my hotel lobby!  They passed me early on the course (we had the same finish line, but started 13.1 miles in front of the full marathon).  I've never seen the Kenyans before.  I should have asked for a picture.            

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 3: Provo

June 11

The skies were a little threatening, but they didn't drop much rain on me.  I drove through beautiful Utah and pulled over to take a couple of pictures.  I can't wait to head back south towards Arches National Park when I've got a little more time to enjoy.  They picked a gorgeous spot for a rest area.  Who wouldn't like to picnic here?


I arrived in Provo to pick up my race packet with 4 hours to spare.  I didn't have reservations, which probably isn't very smart when there's a marathon.  I asked at the La Quinta and she said they were booked, but she heard the Sleep Inn across the street still had rooms.  I checked, but they only had the jacuzzi suite available.  I will be forced to recuperate in a hot tub with jets of water pummeling my aching muscles.  I know you feel sorry for me.    

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 2: Bloomfield

Texas Panhandle

I went to Wal-Mart and the lady told me she'd sell me tires if I was determined to buy them, but I didn't really need them yet.  I guess there was just a whole lot of water on the road.  I think it was the same storm that killed the campers in Arkansas.  (Shudder.)  I asked if I should rotate them and she said I had my best two tires on the back, which is where I want them.  I think I need to go somewhere to get them balanced, though, because I'm getting a lot of steering wheel vibration at highway speeds.  It's not the alignment, because I took my hands off the wheel and the car kept going straight.

I had nothing but beautiful blue skies for my second day of driving.  I have a deadline to reach my destination, so I only have photos taken from rest areas along the highway.  The one in the Texas Panhandle, outside of Amarillo, was beautiful.  It was like a miniature museum with historical exhibits, airconditiong, plenty of seating, and free wi-fi.  There is a tornado shelter here somewhere.  Outside are covered picnic tables, BBQ pits, a playground, and signs warning to watch for rattlesnakes.  They normally warn of their presence, but don't reach under any rocks or stick your hands in any holes, just in case...

The rest area in New Mexico wasn't as nice, but serviceable.  They did have a historical marker (why do people insist upon adding grafiti?), and I spotted a ladybug enjoying the facilities, as well.

In the middle of the afternoon, I heard a noise like a balloon expanding and then exploding and immediately thought of my tires.  It made my heart skip a beat, but it was just a bag of Tostitos I had on the back seat.  Apparently, it got really hot back there.

I made a stop at a casino along the way and played a little Texas Hold 'Em. I'm starting to get some respect at the tables. People are surprised I've only been playing a few months. They suspect I'm being coy when I say, "I'm learning."

After dark, I stopped for gas in the middle of nowhere and a woman approached me in the parking lot, asking for a ride.  What's up with all the people doing this lately?  Do I look like a taxi????  She said her boyfriend took off and left here there.  "Can I help you call someone to come get you?"  She said she only knew of one person and she didn't want to wake her.  My friend would be pissed if I was stranded somewhere and didn't call her.  My friends would come get me and then hunt down the boyfriend and beat his ass.  I did not give her a ride, but I made sure the guys working at the station knew she was there and they said they'd take care of her.  She had been in there earlier trying to buy alcohol, but they wouldn't sell to her because they suspected she was already intoxicated.      

I drove until almost midnight and stopped in Bloomfield, New Mexico at another Best Western.

P.S.  I have safely reached my destination for the race (not NM).  I'll post more after I leave.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Road Trip

Image from Flickr.  Click on the photo for original post and info about Chief Quanah Parker.

I'm headed north for my next race. I'm not posting where I'm going or exactly where I am, only where I've been. I'll probably be on the road for the next two weeks.

I wasn't able to leave until late yesterday because I had to wait on a prescription refill. I can't be running/walking marathons or backpacking in the mountains without my asthma meds. I drove until midnight and ended up in Quanah (named after Chief Quanah Parker), Texas. I rolled up to the Best Western without a reservation and asked for their best rate. She upgraded me to a suite for no extra charge. I didn't ask why, I just said, "Thank you."

It rained quite a bit last night and my car started to hydroplane. I didn't realize the tread on my tires was getting so low. I think I'll find a place to buy some tires soon. I certainly don't want to be driving cross country on bald tires next month. Should I go to Wal-Mart or Discount Tire? It'll probably be whichever I find first.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Take it From My Hands

I've been getting too many emails from guys that clearly didn't read my profile and are not interested in anything more than a hookup.  One had "Very" as the subject and one word in the body - "sexy."  I can't wade through all of these.  I'm taking down all of my profiles.  When I'm supposed to meet Mr. Right, God will put him in my path.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pick Me! Pick Me!

Pick Me! was the name of the cache, so it shouldn't have taken me so long to figure it out.  I finally realized the flowers were in a shady spot by themselves under a tree.  I looked closer and sure enough, they were silk.  Moved a piece of bark aside and discovered one of the blooms was glued to a film canister. 

I've gotten into the habit of loading geocaches near wherever I'm going to be, just in case I have time to kill.  I loaded some of them in Leander, Texas, near the KOA where I camped.  I found one hidden under the bolt cover in a light pole.  I had to look twice before I spotted it, though.  It was another one of those nano caches. 

It's a tiny magnetic canister with a miniature scroll log to sign.  This was the first time I've driven from cache to cache.  I normally walk.  I grabbed the cache, signed in my car, and did my best to replace without anyone seeing.   

Camping at the KOA wasn't too bad.  Most of the traffic cutting through my site was between the pool and a few RV's near my tent.  I did hear an adult scolding on of the kids,  "That's private property!"  There were some lazy grown-ups, too, but after the pool closed they went to bed.  After the sun set, it was cool enough to close all the privacy panels.  I left the rainfly off, so there was plenty of ventilation through the mesh panels in the roof.  I had the bathroom almost completely to myself since most of the campers were in RV's.  I might stay here again if all the state parks are full.     

I was in The Hill Country for a party barge that Hill Country Outdoors rented, but my GPS stopped working (the one I use to navigate in my car, not the geocaching GPS) and I didn't find the marina.  I have since purchased a map of the area, but not in time.  I missed my boat. :(  

Oh, well.  I'm already here.  I might as well enjoy other things the Hill Country has to offer.  I didn't get a chance to hunt for the geocaches in Pedernales (pronounced per-din-al-iz) State Park last week, so I went to get some of them.  They are harder to get to in the park, but more fun to find.  I had to leave the trail and bushwhack a little.  I even had to cross a couple of small streams.  I could step over the water easily, but it required climbing up and down the 10 to 15-foot banks which were not a gradual slope.  One was almost like  the walls of the rock climbing gym, except there were tree roots and limbs instead of rocks to grab for handholds.  It probably would have been easier if I had returned to my car and parked closer to a trailhead instead of just following the GPS signal to the next closest hide.  I got three:



Click to enlarge if you can't see them.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I'm in my tent surfing the net - how cool is that?  The state parks were full, so I'm at a KOA.  There are RV's across that little road.  I've had better campsites at other KOA locations.  I decided to put my tent in the open area and save the shade for sitting under during the day, but the light from the bathroom has me regretting that decision.  It may be a little darker over there.  It's possible I may move in the middle of the night.

And people keep cutting through my site!  How rude!

I think I like the cow pasture better.  

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Plenty of Fish

lion_fish_2, originally uploaded by Crystal Images.
Image from Flickr.

I had sworn off internet dating, but everyone kept asking if I'd tried Plenty of Fish. I don't trust free sites, so I was reluctant. I thought if they weren't even willing to pay 20 bucks a month (or less) for a membership, how interested were they really in meeting anyone? I finally relented. Before I was even done creating my profile, I had mail.

The first one replied to my ad before I even posted a pic. I think he might be one of the few that actually read my profile and didn't just look at the picture. He says he's going to run a half marathon in Badlands National Park next month to feed both his running and park addiction at the same time. Already we have two things in common. I guess I'll correspond with him and see what happens.

I'm deleting any and all messages that don't contain clear evidence that they read my profile. Just writing "we have a lot in common" isn't enough - it must specify what we have in common. One guy referenced a line I wrote and asked a question about it. He'll get a reply, even though I'm not sure if I'd really like to meet him. Another also referenced something I wrote, but his profile says cats creep him out. I gave him the courtesy of a reply that said I have two cats that I'm NEVER getting rid of, sorry.

I deleted someone's email without responding and don't remember exactly why. He sent another one that said, "Well, that was RUDE." He just confirmed he's not someone I want to meet. When I try to respond to everyone, I'm rewarded with nastygrams, so I stopped that a long time ago. Suddenly I'm ugly, stupid, stuck even wrote he wouldn't #$%& me with a 10-foot pole. What's the point of sending those messages? Does he think it will make me change my mind and want a date?

I put a relationship as my intent and wrote: " I'm not looking for an instant relationship, but dating a bunch of guys for the sake of dating isn't fun any more. I'd like to find someone who shares the same interests who's also done 'playing the field' and wants something real." Hopefully that will chase away the ones that need to go, and not repel the rest. We'll see...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Watch Where You Step

I gave you guys a break for a few days.  I was camping without internet access for the weekend.  I could have gone to McDonald's or Starbucks, but I was having fun with friends in the real world.

Bayou City Outdoors did a series of Hill Country events for the Memorial Day Weekend.  You know it was a guy who picked the campground - we were camped out in a pasture.  I knew it was a ranch, but I didn't realize we were going to be in the same field as the cows.  Click to enlarge the below photo and you can see exactly how close they were.

I awoke to the sound of mooing and a strange call I soon realized was coming from the BULLS.  There were two of them coming straight towards our tents - dehorned, but still very large and scary.  I told one of the guys to go stop them from coming this way.  I was only kidding, but he did it!  He walked over to the bulls and immediately the two of them started fighting.  The cows came over to watch.  It reminded me of the school yard, with the kids yelling, "Fight!  Fight!"

There were a couple of dogs that were hanging out at the ranch and decided to adopt us for the weekend.  That's R and one of them pictured above.  When R started encouraging the cattle to move farther away from our camp, she immediately ran out to help.  She actually sent them in the correct direction and only chased them when we were trying to shoo them.  Smart puppy!  We decided if she was going to herd the cattle, she could stay.

She did a good job.  The cattle spent a lot of time standing around and staring at us.  I think we stole their favorite shade trees and all those spots void of grass where we liked to pitch our tents were their beds.  They were probably wondering why they could fit an entire herd under those trees and six skinny humans couldn't share.

There were also a couple of horses that occasionally came whinneying and running through camp.  One of them decided to take a dust bath.  The dog spotted the horse with all four legs in the air, rolling around on the ground and decided she wanted to play, too.  The horse wanted no part of it.  He reared up, kicked at the air, and our canine friend took the hint.        

We used the ranch, near Llano, as a base camp while we did some wine-tasting at the vineyards outside of Fredericksburg and visited a couple of state parks.  I hope everyone had fun this holiday weekend.