Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's Almost Over I Swear

The latest installment of my vacation tale has been posted here. I also added a link to the right for the entire Flickr album of our vacation.

Monday, July 23, 2007

4th of July Post

I just updated my vacation log with the 4th of July stuff. If you're curious then you can go check it out. I think there's some nice pictures. However you can always wait until I've finished compiling the pictures into an album on Flickr.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Wizard Did It

Just to allay any concerns you might have, I won't be posting any details found within the latest Harry Potter book The Deathly Hallows. So don't worry if you haven't read it, you won't find spoilers here, but be careful on the rest of the internet.

Last night Jeff and I went to Borders to get our copies of the book. I'm supposed to be at work today before the bookstores start opening, so we figured what the heck. Man, that was a long wait. They had all the people that had pre-ordered the book or not getting colored wristbands, and then let each section of each color group get in line as they were called. After waiting about 20 minutes I was almost ready to bail on the idea, but I went to go look for the Yarn Harlot's latest book and ran into Erin. Erin and Ian were both at the store too!

This made the night go by much more pleasantly. We had a lot of fun looking through the presidential doodles book (we were camped out in the history section). We also chatted about Harry Potter a bit, and Jeff warned everyone that Wikipedia is not safe for the time being, there are spoilers waiting to jump out at every corner. The people watching was superb. It's really a shame that I didn't bring a camera. There was a girl that was dressed up with a carrot hat, 1 good stab at Luna Lovegood and a bunch a twats with non-matching shoes, tons of cute little tiny Harry Potters (like age 5 and under), one family with 3 kids had dressed the youngest (2ish I'd guess) like a house elf, some old guy in his finest gold SCA outfit, a chick dressed as a quidditch player that had the coolest boots, and more fake wands than you could shake anything at.

Finally around 2:30 in the morning all 4 of us had our new books (at 40% off - $20.99 +tax) and a poster (that I haven't looked at yet) and we headed to our respective homes. I forced myself not to read a single sentence of the book last night, because I wanted to get to sleep as early as I could. I'd taken a small nap before we went to the store, but not enough to get me through a work day. Speaking of which, I need to wrap this up so that I can get to work. The last thing I want to post is an excerpt from the ad for the BookPeople event (that we didn't go to, because we didn't get a voucher in advance so we weren't getting a copy of the book there).

This is from the Calender section of the Onion:
"Harry Potter dies, okay? Now that that's out of the way, maybe you can get on with your life. Better yet, spend one last evening talking children's literature with other people who should know better at this fete for the final chapter in J.K.Rowling's boy wizard saga. To help bide the time before the midnight sale of Harry Potter And The Inevitably Disappointing Conclusion, BookPeople is constructing its own "Diagon Alley"..."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rain Rain Go Away

Jeff and I had an exciting moment during the drive to work this morning. ... Okay, let me back up because I'm getting side tracked by my own brain. I have to make sure and complain about how people in Austin drive in the rain. They are not the best drivers in any type of weather, but everything really goes to crap when it rains. It's like they are actually scared of rain itself, not the effect it has on driving conditions, but more that they have a terror of these strange wet blops that fall from the sky as if their god was weeping and who knows what that could mean??? If you happen to read this and haven't been to Austin, you should know that this is not some sort of desert climate that rarely gets rain. Austin gets rain, lots of rain, not Seattle type rain or anything, but enough that it really shouldn't terrify people anymore.

The end result is that we were cruising quite slowly on the freeway, because there was rain, and we've discussed rain in Austin. For once I'm glad that everyone practically comes to a stand still when it rains. In mid-stroke the driver side windshield wiper just flipped upside down. Somehow the whole thing had come partially undone and the little clippy bit just let it pop away from the window and flip over. We were able to pull over to the side, Jeff hopped out, flipped the wiper over, and locked it back into place, and then we were back on our merry little way. I think maybe 3 cars managed to pass us before we were ready to roll again. (Not cause Jeff was fast, but because traffic was that slow.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How's It Hanging?

So I've been doing my new job here at The Company since a little before my vacation and entirely since the after vacation, and boy howdy. I'm still here getting my arse handed to me regularly. It seems like everytime I think that I have a concept figured out there's a new twist to it that makes half the stuff that I already knew go kablooey. I guess I did say that I wanted more of a challenge, so I've got that at least.

All in all I'm having a good time. I definately enjoy my days here more than I was in my previous post. And slowly but surely my replacement is standing on her own two feet and keeping off my back. It was strange yesterday when I had some material to take back to the warehouse. I realized that it was the first time I had walked past my old co-workers since June 25th, I felt out of place, almost like I was trespassing.

I haven't been posting much because I'm busy all the time. I mean, I haven't even had time to finish my vacation posts. There will be more coming, but they will be back dated to go in line with the others. I have a Flickr album where I am loading the pictures from my trip in chunks, or at least I was before I took a week off from the computer. I'm literally so tired of looking at the computer by the time that I leave here that other than paying bills and checking my email twice I've stayed away from the computer at home. I also have a small issue in that my laptop needs a new video card fan (oops forgot to order that when I got home last night) that I need to order. Once Jeff hops on the WoW that means I have no computer access for the rest of the night. Still there will be more photos added. I'm really excited about the fireworks photos that I took, so I can't wait to get those up there.

We went and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last week. My feelings go back and forth with it. There were some aspects that I really loved, like the visual style that was breath taking. I also had some issues with it. I think the most common complaint that you will find fans have with it is just that the beginning of the movie moves too quickly through plot points. Each point that had to be made gets a line or two of dialouge and it feels somewhat empty. Still, all in all I did enjoy the movie and I'm sure the next time I see it I'll like it even more. There's always little things that you miss the first time around.

I've also managed to re-read the last two books (5 & 6) in anticipation of book 7's release. I believe that it goes on sale this Friday at midnight (Saturday morning). As excited about reading it as I am, I can't say that I'm pleased that we'll be buying two copies. There's just no way that I can wait for Jeff to finish, and I also don't want to read it and not be able to talk about it in front of him until he gets a chance to read it. So we have to get two copies and that's just life.

Okay, I'm getting too far behind so I gotta go. Take care peoples.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vacation Post #6

July 5th: More fruitless fishing; the difference is that we drove really far away to not catch fish. I wasn't really into fishing so I stayed in the truck knitting for the most part. Before driving over a small mountain we did check out one fishing spot closer to "home", but it was a bust. A dam had broke, and that meant the water was too swift and had no deep place for the fish to hang out. The first spot was really pretty though, and I would have liked to walk around a bit more there. Jeff seemed to enjoy fishing at the second spot, and his mom had a blast.

Jean had officially come down with the green/yellow plague. She started trying to get her Dr to phone in a prescription for her, but she didn't have any luck. Why is it when you try to give a doctor all the information that you think they need, and ask if they need anything else, and remind them that you won't have cellular access where you are they still call back and leave you a message asking you to call back so they can ask a quick pointless question?

We did have success with shopping though. Jeff finally found a hat that he liked, and it looked good on him too. We also finally found the yarn store open. Neota Designs has beautiful handpainted yarns, but it's not a huge shop. (I'm rather spoiled from the sprawling choices here in Austin at Hill Country Weavers.) I picked up a Mohair/Wool/Nylon blend in reddish hues that was calling to me. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with it yet, but the price was so reasonable that I had no defenses.

I called and checked in with Erin, and she let us know that the cats were all doing fine, and the the ceiling in our pantry had been replaced while we were away. I was glad that we wouldn't have to deal with that when we got back. We also checked out email and found that my dad had sent pictures of Muttly sleeping around during his vacation in Houston.

For dinner we ate the fish that we had caught earlier in the week. Jean cracked me up when she demanded that the whole table turn to watch her take one bite. That's it, just one. She explained that she was sick, and she didn't like fish, but she ate one bite and that should be good enough.
I ate 1/2 of my fish, and I thought it was okay. Jeff first got the grey one, but he said it was kind of gamey. When Jean declared that she didn't want her fish he ate that one instead. It was kind of funny, once I announced that I would not eat the fish if the head was left on everyone wanted their fish heads removed... except for Dan. Dan kept the head on his fish, then he chewed on it's face to get the cheek meat. Ew!

After dinner we played poker again, and I lost all my pennies. Yup, I lost a whole two dollars of pennies in a single sitting. I can't believe that I was so reckless in my bets. It was still fun, even if I was the loserest.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vacation Post #5

July 4th: We didn't have any luck fishing, but we did scout out a new river to try tomorrow. This is a good thing because tonight the fireworks will be going off right where we've been fishing all week. While scouting out the new area we picked up 4 cinnamon rolls the size of my head from a 4 shack town. We were all too entirely full to eat them at the time, so we saved them for later.

The hike for the day was a bit of a carebear hike. Jeff and I were to walk around Bear Lake and then jot on down to the Glacier Gorge trailhead. Dan's plan was to hike 1.8 mi up to a different lake and then back down to the truck. Jean's ankle had been hurting her quite a bit, so she was going to wait in the truck for all of us to get back. As Jeff, Dan, and I were piling out of the car a park ranger man came up and asked, "Is there a handicap person in that car?" (Oh yeah, we were parked in a handicap spot because Jean had a handicap doodad for the rearview, and it was closer to the bathrooms and such in case she needed to go.) We told him that there was, and went off to get maps. The ranger man came up to us again, "Will she be okay in there by herself?" We reassured him that she would be fine, and considered telling him that the windows were cracked, but we resisted.

Bear Lake was quite a calm hike, and is largely wheelchair accessible. We circled the lake in about 15 minutes. We saw a squirrel go up and grab a lady by the leg because the thought she might have some food. He startled her so bad that she almost swatted him with the book that she was reading. When the squirrel realized that she didn't have anything for him he started standing up and begging from the other people standing nearby.

We decided against going straight back down to the other trailhead. We had almost 2 hours before we were expected back so Jeff and I hiked up to Alberta Falls. It's only about a half mile from Bear Lake to get to the falls, and it's really beautiful. Up at the top Jeff stopped to knit for a bit, and I got some good pictures. After resting for a while we went down to the Glacier Gorge trailhead where we caught a bus to take us back up to Bear Lake. We were back a full 15 minutes ahead of time, so no harm done. It's too bad that Jean couldn't hike with us, because I think she would have really liked the view.

After our hike, and Jean's nap in the car, we went to Estes Perks. It's a little coffee shop near the park. They have 8 or more hummingbird feeders and several other types of seeded bird feeders. We spotted all sorts of birds while we were there. There were of course the hummingbirds, but we also saw a woodpecker that would get seeds from the birdfeeder, put them into a tree, and then peck them out again to eat them.

The first few days of our vacation were sunny, and almost hot. It was a big departure from the previous year when it was chilly and rained almost every day for at least a few minutes. So of course this trip it was completely sunny up until right before dusk on the 4th of July. I mean, why bother raining unless there's going to be fireworks?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Vacation Post #4

July 3rd: We have a rousing breakfast of toast and coffee before heading off for the morning's fishing. (sorry fishes) I should point out here that I do love fishing, but I don't tend to eat fish. I prefer catch and release, but that's not in the cards for these little guys.

Jean caught the first fish today, and she's so proud; she took Jeff and I off to the spot where she caught it. I think it was my second cast in that spot when I catch the next fish. We both caught the spotted variety that I had fished out yesterday. Jeff gets all frustrated because his lure keeps snagging on things, and although I'm trying to help by getting it loose, it just irritates him more and more each time it happens. By the time we leave he's more than ready.

We crossed over the Continental Divide today, and finally saw a bunch of elk. Last year they were everywhere, but this year we've barely seen any animals. Dan says that they're all further up the mountains. I suppose they're not impressed with the warm weather this year. I had a bad time at the summit where the gift shops were. Something was messing with my eyes, I'm not sure if it was dryness or pressure changes, or just sinus issues from the combination or all the above and being sick, but I started freaking out and went to hide in the car. Everything was fine in the truck, so I just waited for everyone to finish their shopping and knat for a bit. I did manage to toss Jean the gift that I wanted for my dad and the cash to pay for it for me, so at least everyone gets a souvenir.

On the west side of the mountain the trees were all dying, it was terrible. There has been a pine bark beetle infestation, and there's nothing to be done. A week of temps below 20 degrees would have killed them off, but the forest is just too big to spray the whole thing. A forest fire would also take care of the problem, but is obviously not a desirable way to deal with the problem. The ranger says that eventually the bugs will run out of trees to eat (since they only eat one kind) and then they'll die off. I have no idea how long it will take the area to recover from the damage that's been done though. It was just weird, because the side of the range that we've been on has none of this devastation.

At that end of the park is another town Grand Lake. We had some beers* and then Jeff and I went to the bank to get pennies for some penny poker. After the bank we went to a chocolate shop and got some of the biggest caramel apples I've ever seen in my life. Mine had caramel then pecans and then drizzles of dark chocolate, omg it was soooo good. Jeff's had caramel and then toffee candy smooshed on. His was okay, but not anywhere as swoon-worthy as mine**.

The trip to the bank went better than the prior year's trip. See I was even more photo happy the year before and I actually started taking pictures in this bank. It was all rustic looking, and I just thought it was kind of cool. I got some nasty looks from an old teller lady who must have suspected that I was a burgeoning bank robber. This year I didn't whip out the camera and everyone was all smiley nice to us.

I was the big winner with the penny poker at the end of the night. I won all $2 of pennies. The final game was really the only good game that I played all night. We were playing Texas Hold Em and on the River I drew the card that made my flush to win. I'm not a very good poker player, but we all had fun, and now I have $2 in pennies.

*note: Estes Park Brewery Red Ale = Awesome, Grand Lake Red Ale = Teh Suxxor

** Later during the trip Jeff tried to out-do my apple and got one with caramel, nuts, a full coating of dark chocolate, and drizzles of white chocolate, but he failed. I still had the best apple of the trip. All the stuff on this one made it way too thick, and the white chocolate tasted icky.

Vacation Post #3

[Here we go again with some more of my vacation fun time. No photos for this stuff yet, and that's probably just going to be how it is.]

July 2nd: I'm not feeling so good, but I feel better than Jeff. I have a slight worry that he's getting sicker, but I think he mostly just feels crappy because he had a reaction to the antibiotic that he's on. Or rather the antibiotic caused him to have a reaction to sunlight, and by reaction I mean ugly red rash where the sunlight hit him on the legs. I spoke with the pharmacist in town, and we agree that he should go ahead and finish the medicine since he only has one day left. He's got to keep covered up, or wear sunscreen if he feels adventurous. I also got a cortizone cream to try and help the rash feel better faster.

I went fishing this morning with Dan and Jean. Jeff wasn't feeling up to it, so he stayed at the cabin and got some more rest. I caught the first fish of our trip. It's probably about 8 1/2 inches long, and was quite pretty with orange spots on it's side. Dan caught a different breed that is more grey and has no spots on it, but it was bigger than mine. Jean was dissappointed that she didn't catch any fish, but we'll try again tomorrow.

After our late breakfast and a brief nap, Dan tricked me into a hike. I mean, I wanted to hike, but I was told that it was super easy, mostly flat with just a couple of switch backs at the end, and it was 2.3 miles. Next time I'll know to press for a few more details. This was not an easy hike. I've done worse, but I was still pretty congested, and not being able to breathe makes hiking a bit harder. It's also important to note that although hiking to Cub Lake was 2.3 miles (and not flat), it was a 6 mile hike before we actually made it back to the truck. It was fun, and beautiful though, so I am glad that I went. I'm really glad that he didn't talk Jeff into it, because he would have been miserable.

Before heading back to the cabin, Dan and I made a few stops. We first went to the marina and got worms for tomorrow's fishing. Then we stopped at the Estes Park Brewery to get some beer. The beer went great with the kabobs that we had for dinner. They were easily some of the best kabobs that I've ever had. After dinner the whole pack of us drove down to see if we could spot some coyotes, but no luck. To make up for the lack of wildlife we drove into town and got homemade ice cream. That cinnamon chocolate that I got was not messing around. I've never ever had ice cream with that much cinnamon in it. Yum!

By the end of the night it seemed like Jeff was getting better, but it seems like Jean might be coming down with the plague now. *sigh* If only everyone was well this trip would go much smoother.

Vacation Post #2

July 1st: Goddamn it gets cold up here at night. We opened a window last night, because it was stuffy, but at 5am I was frozen. I got up, put on wool socks, closed the window, and added another blanket to the bed.

It's only 6:30 am and I've been up for an hour. I'm trying to avoid making coffee since Dan is out walking, and Jeff and Jean are still sleeping. I'm sure they'll start waking up if I make coffee so I'm trying to let them get some sleep. My unofficial rule is no coffee until Dan gets back or someone else wakes up. For now I'm just knitting on a new hat.
When everyone gets up we have blueberry pancakes, sausage, cantaloupe, pineapple, and clementines for breakfast. Jeff even had them get my favorite orange juice.

At 9:30 we headed to town to do some shopping in the tourist traps, and we visit the Scandinavian Summer Festival. I took a lot of photos of the various stuff for sale there. It really cracked me up seeing wool sweaters for sale in 90+ degree weather. Half the shoppers were dressed in shorts and tank tops. Still it was fun to look around. I narrowly avoided purchasing a $45 kit to knit wool mittens. Luckily the woman didn't accept credit cards, and I had no other payment method on me. After a few minutes of thinking about it I remembered that I don't even like to wear mittens, even if they were really cool looking mittens. Really the only thing that I didn't enjoy was when a church sermon was broadcast over the PA. It was Sunday morning and all, but it was a "festival" to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

We tried to find Jeff a hat, but we had no luck. I bought a great floppy hat for $10 and let Jeff wear my old hat. I think he's cute in it, but we'll keep looking to find him one of his own on another day. We did buy a bandanna for Muttly, and a froggy carabeaner for Iza. While Jeff and Jean picked out a pie, I grabbed some bubble tea from a sushi place, and then we headed to a yarn store. This place was supposed to open at 12 (we found out when we first saw it at 11:30) but even after 12 there wasn't anyone there. We waited for a few minutes, and then we took off.
I grabbed some flip flops for Jean and myself at Ace Hardware while Jeff and Dan procured fishing licenses for us all. I swear the flip flops are one of the only bargains that you can find in Estes Park, $2.50 a pair. They aren't as cute as last year, but it keeps your feet from getting filthy or picking up splinters from inside the cabin.

Back at the cabin I unraveled some of Jeff's sock for the 2nd time. His knitting is getting better and more consistent, but it's also becoming looser. It's not too loose, but it no longer strangles the needles, and that means that the stitches take up more space and that the sock is now too big. While Jeff worked on re-knitting his sock he discovered that one of the squirrels outside the cabin is a cherry thief. Chip, as we call him, will just run up to the bowl, grab a cherry or two and run off again.

Jean went bonzo because we saw big horn sheep. It seems like they are her favorite animal here at the park. She'd rather see a ram, but the ewes will have to do because there are no males in this group. Every time we pass a certain bend in the road she hollers for Dan to slow down, in case there might be sheeps. These sheep are in a different spot and are really far away. I take a few pictures, but unless you soon way in they look more like rocks than critters. We were able to see them pretty well, because a stranger let us peek through his telescope.
We had raw hamburgers for dinner. Okay, they weren't completely raw, but they were really really undercooked. Luckily there was a triple berry pie for dessert. The advantage of an undercooked meal is that it leaves me plenty of room to eat dessert.

I finished knitting my hat, and realized that I will probably never wear it this trip. It just isn't cold enough to warrant a wool hat; I also concluded that my hat needs a pom-pom on top. I shall get assistance from Jean since she seems to know all about pom-poms and I've never made on.

I can't believe that I almost didn't tell you about the merman that we saw on display at the Christmas ornament store. I mean goodness! How could I leave that out?!? Isn't he handsome?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Vacation Posting - Entry #1

So, I've been trying to keep some notes from day to day in order to blog about our trip later, and some days have been more eventful or more documented than others. We're currently hanging out at Estes Perks and I'm feeding squirrels Chex Mix while Jeff and his dad (Dan) bird watch.

Day 0 - Jeff left Thursday morning with his mom (Jean) to drive to Colorado, while I was due to fly out of Houston Saturday afternoon. I was supposed to be all packed up and ready to go on Thursday night, but as Erin can attest I was just too pooped to pop. I went to bed early and spent Friday morning trying to pack up before work. On the way to work I realized that I hadn't packed any pajamas and started a mental list of things that had to be done before I left for Houston: put out food and water for cats, clean litter boxes, pack pjs, check mail, etc. I ended up not leaving Austin until 6pm, and had a pretty uneventful drive to Houston. It rained a little, but not for more than a few minutes at a time. I had to drive in 30 minutes of night time, and it was not great, but not too bad, you know? It was more annoying than anything. I spent the evening with my dad and Iza, we had spaghetti for dinner (by my request). Iza made me some of her delicious garlic bread, and I crept off to bed around 10:30 or so.

Day 1 - I was up at 6:30 am, partly from not feeling well, and partly just out of habit. I had a headache so I took some advil, and drank some water then laid back down for another 30 minutes. I heard Iza making coffee, so I got up and we just hung out drinking coffee, and waiting for my dad to get up. She made me a giant breakfast with eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, and orange juice... all for me. It was way too much food, and I let Muttly have a bit of it.
We watched the Bewitched movie with Will Farrell and Nicole Kidman. I was surprised, because it was a lot better than I thought it would be. Since my dad read that I needed to be at the airport 90 min ahead of time we left their apartment 2 hours before my flight. Within 40 minutes we were at the airport, my bag was checked, and I had a boarding pass. Oops, we had just a little bit of time to kill. The three of us had a beer together and then they left me to my fate.
At the security check point I put all my stuff into a plastic tote, including my shoes. It was weird to be standing around in socky feet, but at least I wasn't bare foot like some of the poor souls there.
I'd like to take the time to comment that every single person working at the Houston Airport that day was a grumpy bear to the max. The only two exceptions were the man who checked my bag, and was really cool and funny, and the woman who was handing out ziplocs to the people in the security line that didn't have their own. Even the flight attendants were bitches. Anyway, that's not the worst part of my flight.
My flight was supposed to be leaving at 2:11pm. At 2:45 they told us that the plane would hopefully be landing in Houston at 2:52, which was untrue. The plane did finally show up just after 3, and around 3:30 we finally boarded the plane. We didn't take off until 4 though, so I was a bit late to land in CO. I did keep updating Jeff with text messages as much as I could, including the last minute "we're all on board" right before they told us all to turn off our cell phones.
We landed in Denver at 4:55, mind the gap with that time change. I took two moving sidewalks, two escalators, a train, and another escalator to get to my luggage and my sweetie pie.
The drive up was pretty and boring all at the same time. I tried to fill up all the spaces with talking and started to cough a lot by the time we got to the cabin. The cabin that we stayed in is actually inside the Rocky Mountain National Park. The cabin is part of the Cascade Cottages. It's got electricity and running water with indoor shower and toilet, so it's like camping but less sucky.
Even though I was feeling bad the slave drivers made me work to unload the truck and start getting everything put away. By the time we were done I collapsed on the bed and had Jeff take the first picture of our vacation. I look so pathetic!

Guess what we had for dinner? Spaghetti again! Oh, and we called out cabin the Slanty Shanty because it is not at all level. It is almost like living in the U-Haul we unloaded for Ian at his new place, but not quite that bad. I had a lot fun that night rolling things down the hill of the floor.

Okay, that's it for now. Hope you're all doing well.