Sunday, October 28, 2007

the dog ate my eyepatch

no, not really, but i swear that's what i'm telling the first person who asks about it the next time i don my halloween costume.

a mere year after purchasing my first "big girl" costume (and come to think of it, i'm probably small enough to get into my "pebbles" costume from soon as i figure out where i put it, that is), i finally had reason to wear it. not only that, but despite the high-quality pictures i'm posting, i apparently looked good enough to compel a relatively sober partygoer (who happened to be male, which is no doubt a shock to my sibling) to ask for my number.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

no mittens, boxing gloves, or photos of bathing beauties

i thought about pounding out a six-post series about my recent trip to the grand canyon, but really- who am i kidding? i mean, blogwise, i still haven't made it back from ireland yet.

so, with that in mind, i'm taking the easy way out:

ten things i learned while whitewater rafting in the grand canyon

1. choose your tent carefully. while a backpacking tent is light (which the mules who carried our crap out of the canyon surely appreciated), trying to fit two people, plus sleeping bags and 2" thick paco pads, inside one without inadvertantly collapsing the tent can be tricky. also, encountering the large amounts of condensation produced as a result of SO's snoring at 2am, when i sort of sat up before rolling over could most easily be compared to receiving a sloppy kiss from a guy who somehow got uglier during the night.

2. the groover is your friend.

as with any friendship, your new friend will have certain rules and expectations.

rule #1: leave only poop and toilet paper in the groover. if you don't have serious business for the groover, take care of it either directly into the river or into the handy yellow bucket located next to the groover.

rule #2: use a reasonable amount of toilet paper, as we have only so many rolls to last during the trip, without a walmart in sight. as our PRO representative, beth, informed us, ladies get a bad rep as using too much tp.

"so, use a few squares. no (wraps 3 or 4 feet of tp around hand) "mittens" or (wraps another 3 or 4 feet of tp) "boxing gloves", ladies."

rule #3: it is always better to use the camp groover (pictured above) after setting up camp at night or before breaking it down in the morning. otherwise, you shall be forced to "brown bag" it. without going into detail, let me just tell you there are two brown bags involved, plus a ziploc baggy, if one happens to be hiking at the time.

ah yes, "pack it in, pack it out", indeed.

3. eat in moderation. our meals were fantastic, thanks to PRO's "painless private" option, and many folks who had second helpings of fresh coleslaw the night of the 14th found themselves needing the brown bags when we stopped at the confluence of the little and big colorado rivers the morning of the 15th. fortunately for yours truly, the only urge i had was to take too many photos.

4. there are three endangered species present in the grand canyon: the kanab snail (found at vasey's paradise, though they must be pretty shy, as we didn't see any there)


the humpback chub (picture an otherwise normal looking fish that had a run-in with the headshrinker in beetlejuice), and the california condor.

the condor is such a big deal that if you try to land at a lovely beach along the colorado for lunch or to set up camp for the evening or whatever, if condors are there to greet you, you have to pack everything back up and move downstream. the crew on my raft decided it would be a great idea to buy a stuffed condor for our next trip. that way, we could pick out our desired stopping points, send someone ahead with the stuffed condor to be placed on those beaches, which would cause the other private and commercial groups to pass those spots up so we could have them. (a bit diabolical, yes, but brilliant!)*

5. sometimes, it's just easier to be a boy. during this trip, the chicks learned (some of us the hard way) that peeing into the colorado whilst hanging onto a slightly stretchy cord attached to the raft can lead to an unintended swim in 40 degree waters (isn't that refreshing!?); when peeing by the river, choose your spot carefully, lest the commercial boat with the hot oarsman float by just as you drop trou (thankfully, he seemed to be paying more attention to the rapids than my blindingly pale derriere); and after peeing while standing in the river, remember to throw in a couple of "swishing moves" to stir up the water, unless you want to smell like an incontinent little old lady until your next 40-degree bath.

6. if you're going to change in your tent (no chance- not in our teeny tiny tent, anyway), be sure to close the door (and not just the screen) or resist the urge to use your lantern, as otherwise, the show you put on will be less like a puppet show and more like something that requires a g string or a tip jar.

7. cooking tip: in the event that you find yourself on the cooking crew during a meal that involves the use of a dutch oven, know that in addition to placing the dutch oven on top of a heat source, another heat source (like, oh, charcoal) needs to be placed on top of the dutch oven. however, if you forget this tip/have never felt the need to cook with a dutch oven in your life, your carrot cake with the slightly liquid middle will still be consumed by the hungry masses- especially if you spoon the liquid insides over the done outside and add lots of icing on top. (better yet- skip the dutch oven and serve pudding or granola bars or something instead.)

8. when you ask the oarsman, "hey- is anybody steering this thing?" and don't receive an answer, turn around, because he might not be in the raft anymore.

9. despite the chilly water temperature, it is advisable to strip down and splash soap and water on at least a few key areas. however, if you're lucky enough to share a teeny tiny tent with someone unwilling to dip even a toe in the 40-degree water or rinse off in a waterfall,

try suggesting that it would be cool to "sleep under the stars". i'm afraid that after five days on the river, the slim possibility of a scorpion sashaying across my face was preferable to suffocating on SOs manly river odors in the teeny tiny tent. (as a bonus, i saw a couple of shooting stars and finally found orion about five minutes before we had to get up and head over to phantom ranch for the hike out on the 17th.)

10. speaking of bathing, a member of our party learned the hard way that it is unwise to seek out a fishing spot with only one path back to camp, especially if that path passes a large, flat rock where one's daughter in law, and her neice and two friends are likely to strip down to nothing to wash their hair, shave their legs, and wash their uh, elbows. not only was he trapped for fifteen minutes while our nude beach was in business, but he'd also forgotten to take his lures with him. however, he was allowed to head back to camp after my cobathers were dressed and i was draped in towels. (sorry- no photos)

*upon our reaching the bright angel trailhead on the 17th, i walked into the first gift shop i could find and purchased a stuffed condor that makes a noise not unlike a condor hacking up something to feed its chicks. at least, i assume that's what it's doing, because otherwise it sings like an emphysemic cross between linda mccartney and harvey fierstein after a three day bender.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

the dog ate my last post....

no- not really. however, i have several good excuses for my monthlong ("month-and-a-halflong just doesn't roll off the tongue quite the same way) absence from posting.

1. i had a hangnail that prevented me from least until i could find some nail clippers or swiss army knife scissors or someone willing to gnaw it off for me. (damned braces)

2. speaking of braces, i couldn't post tuesday morning two weeks ago because i had a hot date with the hunky orthodontist, who switched my bands around, leading to a slightly painful taco eating experience the next day....which traumatized me so much i couldn't post then, either. (i mean, seriously- you know how much i love tacos....)

3. started playing with facebook. became a vampire and a zombie. do you know how time consuming fighting other zombies/vampires and biting people can be? seriously.

4. speaking of zombies, i'm not into the video so much, but i am currently obsessed with this song.

5. two weeks ago, when i finally had time to post, i fired up the laptop to check my email/zombie status on facebook, and it rudely shut down for no apparent reason before i could even enter my password.

lather, rinse, repeat- to no avail.

so, everything's been backed up, my techie friend ash has been thanked for reassuring me that purchasing the extended warranty was a good idea (despite the objections of my dad, SO, and at least two other people i discussed the extra $300 expense with), and my computer is probably sitting on a shelf somewhere at best buy's state of the art repair facility, where it will remain for 2-4 weeks, before (hopefully) being returned to me unscratched, unscathed, and ready to comply with my every being able to finish my ireland posts.

in the meantime, as soon as i finish at the radio station this morning, i'm heading to greenville with SO for one last practice hike before the big whitewater rafting/hiking trip in the grand canyon next week. (yes, we've already purchased the optional "emergency extraction" (fancy way of saying "haul your butt out in a helicopter") insurance.) i'd offer to post pictures tomorrow, but.....