10,000 Feet

Posted on 6/30/2012 07:35:00 AM In:
Despite the fact that we went to Nevada in JUNE, we were in the part of Nevada where the time of year has very little to do with the weather experienced.  You can see snow on the tops of these peaks and yes, it is only a little snow, but the first day we were there, there was a lot more and it got below freezing that night and not much warmer during the day.  One very windy day, relatives took us to the river and all the kids jumped in and immediately turned blue. Someone mentioned that they were surprised how cold the water was and The KingofHearts replied, "Well, what do you expect?  This water was snow yesterday."   Just another example of how most of Nevada... is not Vegas.

Another day, we "went hiking," which apparently with this crowd, means loading everyone into two cars and driving to the highest peak we could find.  See this?


Look a little closer.  Se the white ball at the very highest point of that peak in the distance?  You might have to embiggen the photo to even notice it.  That was our destination.

Also in the photo above: A dust devil, which we seldom see here, but The KoH and I grew up with and are quite blasé about them.  The girls, however, were endlessly fascinated by them and began yelling "DUST DEVIL! DUST DEVIL!" every time they saw one.  That gets old when you see approximately one per hour, just so you know.

Near the white ball.


Nearer.


Nearest.


Once we got to the top, I guess we hiked around a bit, but most of our trip was spent inside the car, which was just fine with me, because I would have spent the whole damn day making sure one child or another didn't go tumbling down the mountain.


I was also concerned about the cows, which apparently think sideways on a peak is a totally fine place to graze.



Apparently that white ball is some sort of radar station and can track planes in the area.  I was told there are people who live up there for several months at a time during the year.  Let's hope they do not have to live in this structure.


Once, you're at the top, however, the view is simply breathtaking.  I have lived in a lot of places and seen some beautiful vistas, but I have yet to see as much in one stretch as you can at the right places in Nevada.



You can see some farmer's circle crops down there.  I'm always amazed at where people choose to settle.  Like this dude looked around all that expanse of dirt and scrub brush and said to himself, "Now, hmmm.... where shall I grow stuff?  Whelp, this looks like as good a place as any..." *breaks ground with plow*


This might be my favorite photo of the week.


The switchbacks up this road were relentless and I found myself thinking about how I used to get carsick as a kid and this drive would not have been my friend back then.  Nor would it have been anyone else's friend.  Let's just say there was an "incident."  But what we all learned from that incident is that if you're an adult and know you'll be driving in a car for long periods of time with a kid who tends to get carsick, do not give that kid an orange soda to drink because neither you nor that kid will ever be able to drink orange soda again for the rest of your lives.



Some day, I'm gonna have to explain to the Shortlings that they don't get to call it hiking if they just get out of the car at the top.  But not today. 


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102 in the Clouds

Posted on 6/29/2012 06:49:00 AM In:
The day before my epic sleep in New York City, I got up at 5:00 am, unable to sleep further, so I took a walk around the city in my pajamas.  (Don't worry, my pajamas are more appropriate for walking around New York City than most people's planned walking around New York City clothing.)  I didn't feel like carrying my big camera with me on this trip, and Instagram has finally been made available for android, so all I was armed with was my camera phone.  I think the result is passable.



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Porn for Kids

Posted on 6/28/2012 06:39:00 PM In:
I went to New York last weekend with Monica, where we did what we always do when we go to New York: we ate, walked ridiculous amounts, made inappropriate jokes and then tweeted watered down versions of those jokes to people on the interweb who didn't think they were nearly as funny as we did.  Then we ate some more.  

The one twist to this weekend was that due to a combination of prior weeks' lack of proper sleep, heavenly hotel beds, blackout blinds, and a new secret weapon, I managed to sleep until 10:30 am on one of the days we were gone.  I am stupid kinds of an early riser and when we go on trips, I often wake up early and sneak out of the hotel room so as not to wake anyone else, then walk around until a decent hour has been achieved and come back with breakfast from some awesome place.  I have never slept this late in my life before; sleeping in for me is 7:00 am after having been up twice during the night.  The momentous occasion was marked by more than just myself as I learned when I woke up. I glanced over to where Monica should have been sleeping and found her huddled over her phone, looking up and down furtively.  "Oh, you're up already," I said, with no clue what time it was.

She threw her arms up in the air, "YOU MADE IT!  HURRAY!"  Apparently, she'd been up for hours, texting my husband, the two of them wondering if I 'was going to make it' 'til 10:00, 10:30, etc.  I believe there was discussion about whether to check my pulse or not, but they both finally decided if I was truly asleep, checking my pulse might wake me up and if I was truly dead, that wouldn't change any time soon.

Logic!

Also: I now know what a joy it is to wake up completely rested and totally get the big deal all of ya'll make about it.  It was awesome.

While I was gone, The KingofHearts took The Shortlings to see Brave.  I was kinda looking forward to seeing that movie myself, but I get it.  It was opening day, the girls had been looking forward to it, and I didn't exactly ask him if he really wanted me to go see the Coney Island Mermaid Parade without him either.  He texted me a photo of them all at the movie theater covered in Brave stickers, so I retorted with this:


Booyah, I win.

I got back home in the middle of o'dark o'clock Monday morning and immediately went to bed.  When The Caterpillar woke up in a couple of hours, The KoH had left for work and she climbed in bed with me. 

"How was your weekend with Daddy?" I asked.  "I heard you went to see a movie."

"Yes! We saw Brave!"

"Did you like it?"

"Uh huh."

"What was your favorite part?"

"The naked boys."

So.... not so different from the Mermaid Parade after all.

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Dwelling Place

Posted on 6/28/2012 02:49:00 PM In:

We also stopped in Salt Lake at the Mormon Tabernacle, which, if you know anything about the Mormons, is one of the most iconic images of the church over the past century.  The pipes from the organ have been on the front of the church hymnbooks for the past fifty years and I have spent endless hours tracing and drawing this picture above during sacrament meetings talks that went on way too long for a kid to bear.  So I just had to grab a shot when we were there.

The building has great acoustics, thanks to its uniquely-shaped roof,


and I was telling The KingofHearts, who had never been there, how they used to give tours of the place and put a tour guide up on the stand who would turn off all the microphones and then drop a pin onto the lectern and you could hear it in the back of the hall.  

Then he quickly learned that the tour hasn't changed in at least twenty-five years.

Here's the organ, which as an adult, I lust after:

And here are the two main organ pipe sets, which as a kid, I always thought looked like a couple of sleepy old men:


A couple of other details I've always loved are the lights,


the faux marble columns, which are hand painted to look like marble, but I believe are actually wood,


and two little girls who were pretty excited to see it all, one of whom looks decidedly crazy.



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Spire-y

Posted on 6/26/2012 10:34:00 AM In:
While we were in Salt Lake for a day, I took the Shortlings around to some local historic sites.  I have roots in the area and thought it'd be cool to show the girls where their ancestors lived and worked as well as some of the monuments that bear their names.  

We also headed up to the Hotel Utah, because they have a great rooftop restaurant where The KingofHearts and I could get a good meal, we could catch a nice rooftop view of the Salt Lake Temple, and the girls could experience the phenomenon that is fry sauce.



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Water, Water, Everywhere

Posted on 6/22/2012 06:18:00 AM In:

We flew to Nevada by way of Salt Lake City because, believe it or not, that was one of the closest airports to where we were actually going.  Then we rented a car and drove a day to our final destination - which sounds like a horror movie genre, I know.  Let me assure you that no one accidentally hanged himself with a clothesline or was attacked by a mad dishwasher.... yet. 

On either side of the trip, we spent a day and a half in Salt Lake.  The city's recently gone through a large downtown renovation project and a place I used to know as Crossroads Mall, which was this weird dungeon of an underground shopping center, has been basically demolished and turned into a lovely, open air shopping plaza. 

Especially since The Doormouse missed her last two days of school for this trip, we tried to make this - especially the Salt Lake portion of the trip - into something educational for The Shortlings.  We were all, "Look kids!  Architecture!  Engineering!  Culture!  History!"

And they were all, "Yeah, yeah, whatevs.  FOUNTAINS!!!!"











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Sign, Sign Everywhere a Sign

Posted on 6/21/2012 04:02:00 PM In:

So, yes, we took a vacation of sorts last week to see some family and stayed in a hotel in a small town in Nevada.  Most people don't really know that there's more to Nevada than Las Vegas and they're wrong.  There's another four hundred miles of state with a whole lot of sand in it too.

The picture of the mountain in this post from a couple of days ago is the Shoshone Mountain range and the view from my in-laws' kitchen window.  It's beautiful country and I had forgotten how much I missed the desert.  But that picture from a couple of days ago also represents the approximate number of people you will see when you walk about in their neighborhood for a few hours.  If you're a person who likes all the amenities a city offers, living in their town is not for you.  Me?  I'm split.  On one hand, I would absolutely love to live in an area like this where I don't have to deal with rush hour traffic and loud neighbors and I could walk out on my back porch naked because there'd be no one but a few coyotes to see me.  The quiet, the country, the sunsets... they're beautiful.  On the other, the choices you have are limited for pretty much everything from what you want to buy in a grocery store to what you do with your spare time.  I, for example, would never be able to find a community orchestra to play with anywhere within a day's drive. Basically, the difference between a very small town and where we live now is this: choices.  We're dealing with some education issues with The Shortlings right now, and it's become clear to me that if we were living there and had these same issues, we would simply have to live with it. Here, we can pull our kids out of public school and put them in any number of private schools in the area if we want and/or can afford it.  We may not like our choices here, but at least we have them.  There, there'd be no such choice.  So - at least for now - I'm sticking with the big city and I'll spend time making sure my kids know how to recognize farm animals.

One of the other ways we had few choices was in available lodging.  We found one of the only hotels in the area that had wireless internet and a pool because I still had to be at least available for work and the kids really wanted to swim.  It was probably the nicest hotel within sixty miles, but it was like staying at your cranky aunt's house where if you do anything wrong, she yells at you and you're afraid to walk on the white carpet with your dirty shoes for fear that you become the root of a story to be told for generations.  I tried for a solid week to get the service staff to understand that while it's fine that their procedure was to stock the room with three towels on a normal day, we had actually paid for four people to stay in the room and we didn't think asking for four towels was an unreasonable request.  I asked for another towel.  I tried hanging up towels to reuse them because the card in the room said if we didn't want the towels replaced every day, we could hang them and conserve water.  The maid service just took all four hanging towels and left three freshly cleaned ones.  I tried setting a towel aside somewhere else in the room.  Maid service found it and took it, then left three towels. I tried directly asking the maid to leave four towels and she did... that day.  But the next day took them all and left three towels. Favorite response to my daily request for an extra towel, "Well, you're just gonna have to come down to the front desk and get it yourself next time, because my manager's not here and I can't be leaving my post to bring you a towel every day."

Me: "Right, but if you just asked maid service leave four towels for the four people staying here, both our troubles could be over."

Her: "But they're told to leave three towels.  This is how we stock the room."

Me:  "Just spitballing here, but could you ASK them to change that for this week/this room?"

She looked at me like I'd grown a third arm.

The key cards they used randomly erased themselves daily and every time I went to the front desk to ask them to fix the cards so I could enter the room I paid way too much for, I got accused of not treating the cards well.

"Did you drop it in the pool?"

"No. It just stopped working."

"Well, did you put it in your pocket with a cell phone?"

"No, I just put it in my purse."

"Your cell phone is in your purse then."

"No.  My cell phone is in my pocket.  See?" *pulls phone out of pocket and waves it around*

"Well there was probably a magnet in your purse."

"Nope.  Don't think so."

"Well, you must have done something to it."

"Can you just let me in my room, please?"

"OK, I'll fix it this time - but you can't put it in your pocket with a cell phone.  Don't put it in your wallet with credit cards.  Don't get it wet.  Don't drop it on the floor or rub it on the carpet.  Don't...."

"Do you realize this conversation just took twice as long as it did to just recalibrate my card?"

"Don't let your kids lick it.  Don't take it into the bathroom with you.  Don't..."

"I'm going to my room now."

"Don't taunt the card. Don't call the card George.  Don't....."

The other hilarious thing about this hotel was all the signs they'd hung... well... everywhere and the "fees" they claimed to charge you for breaking the rules.  I entertained myself by taking photos of all them, but looking at these below, I'm aware that I missed a few.












This was on the dryer



There's an excellent review on yelp in there somewhere.  Anyone care to write it for me?

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Because I Always Approve of Blue Flowers and/or Food

Posted on 6/19/2012 08:08:00 AM In:
I found these little blue flowers growing on a mountaintop in northern Nevada at nearly ten thousand feet above sea level.  In the desert, it's rare to find anything blooming in June and no one knew what they were, but at ten thousand feet, I'm guessing they were some sort of alien flower planted by E.T. and his friends because there's no other explanation for something that can live with as little oxygen as there is up there.  In a related story: remind me never to go hiking at ten thousand feet without an O2 tank.




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Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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