Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More adventures in swimming

So, once again, my normal pool is unavailable. This time, the high school fired the varsity swim coach and changed the locks to all the doors. But didn't tell us. Or give us a copy of the new key.

So, Friday we showed up and couldn't get in. So, its 5:45 AM and my hair is in need of a shower before I go into work. Only I don't want to drive alllll the way back home to take a shower. So, I drive to 24-hr fitness (I have a membership there too) for a shower. No workout, just a shower. Which was odd. But whatever - I was NOT swimming with more freaks like I did last time our pool was dead.

Monday I was a bum and didn't work out. hee

Today, coach rented some lanes at a different pool for practice this morning. An outdoor pool. And as it turns out, a long course pool. 50 meters per length vs our usual 25 yds. Which makes a BIG difference.

So, the air temperature was in the upper 60's so that wasn't a big deal. There were other issues, though. Like it being completely dark at 5:30 AM. So dark that if I wanted to read my watch (for pacing), I had to hit my indiglo button. And my goggles are tinted dark purple, which (go figure) makes swimming in the dark even darker (yes, there were lights at the pool, but only a few and none under the water). Also, they don't cover the pool and there's pine trees everywhere, so I had to get used to the sensation of having long pine needles stick to me as I swim, and not freaking out thinking its a huge hairball or bug stuck to me. Although, I think I did swallow a bug today.... And they had this weird aeration system - like BIG sprinkler jets shooting water into the air and back into the pool in big drops. Cold drops. And the drops were so big you couldn't help but swallow water as you took a breath, no matter how careful you were.

And if that wasn't enough - we ran out of hot water in the showers! But (sadly, this is considered luck), we were lucky b/c they turned the water off at the main about 10 mintues after I was done showering b/c they had a pipe rupture.

I think our team just attracts facility issues.

Overall, it was just ok. I didn't like the sprinkler system spraying me the entire time or the dark. But it was nice swimming outside and the light was very pretty when the sun came up - everything was pre-dawn glowing and the water was a lovely shade of blue. And it was better than swimming with the freaky people at the public gym, so I'll take this over the gym any time (as long as the air temperature is above 60, that is...)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My redneck neighbors

I swear, I could not make this up if I could..... I came home from Subaru happy hour tonight (I just go for one beer and dinner - Will stays later) and I hear this monstrous roar outside. I open the door and see this:

That is a mailbox next to the truck. This fucker is that big. I regret that I did not actually see the person who drove the truck. I suspect he's about my height and has a small d*ick. Its all about over-compensation....

This house is a rental - they moved in the beginning of Februrary. During Rodeo time. They couldn't park their normal monster trucks in their very long driveway b/c they had a horse trailer parked there. So they had to park their ginormous (although, not as big as the Don't Hate truck pictured above) on the street. And our street is pretty narrow, so this made it so I couldn't easily back out of my driveway, which is something that's helpful at say, 5 AM.

Anyways, when rodeo was over, the trailer went away, and now they only park one monster truck in the street, which is ok, I suppose.

Will and I are thinking they're Aggies. As in Texas A&M (I'm getting ready for the hate mail now.....) But as Will and I say when we refer to our neighbors across the street, they're "fucking Aggies". Hee.

BTW, this was a hard picture to grab - cars driving down the street would stop cold to look at this behemoth (a mustang was next to it - completely dwarfed.) Then the rednecks would randomly come outside. And I had to take this with a flash, so it was probably very obvious....

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Is it summer already?

Man, I hate Texas in the summer. I used to love summers. In Colo and Montana I was always outside, working at the pool or as a park ranger. Now that I'm in Texas, all you can do in the summer is scurry from one air-conditioned space to another air-conditioned space. Its horrible.

So, we had a first for us - rolling blackouts! Wooooooo! Because its so exceptionally hot here. I imagine that the electric generators weren't ready for the demand and didn't have all their units on-line. Ours didn't go out at the house - we have 100% wind power. Wooo! I didn't realize this until just now, but no blackouts is an add'l benefit of wind power. Sweet.

Anyways, in an effort to make something positive out of this, here's a list of things I'm currently enjoying because its warmer out:

* Starbucks iced coffee. But you have to order it in this ridiculous manner (for no other reason than its SB and they make everything sound as pretentious as possible). Iced grande unsweetened iced coffee. It took me about a month to get that whole phrase down.

*My post-swimming b'fast of Stoneyfield Farms lowfat vanilla yogurt, frozen/defrosted bing cherries, and flax seed. Yumminess!

*Daylight savings. I like the sunlight!

23 days to Nationals

Eeps! Really, this trip is an excuse to sit on the beach with friends and drink fruity frozen drinks under the guise that I’m competing at the US Masters National meet. For the record, I am entered in the meet. I did not qualify for anything but the rules say that you don’t actually need to qualify for anything if you enter 3 or fewer events. So, I’m swimming one event per day: 200 free, 100 breast, and 100 IM. Nothing too horrible or painful. I’ve been swimming a LOT of 200’s lately, so that should be a breeze.

The 100 breast is a slightly different story. I went to my coach in October asking for help with my stroke, thinking this would be a simple fix. Yeah, silly me. Nothing is ever simple with my coach. I then spent about 2 practices a month (sometimes more, never less) doing a short axis pulse with flippers. This basically looks like a dolphin kick, with no kick involved. Its basically doing a sin curve with your body thru the water. And its hella boring. Which is why I really only did this about 2x a month.

So, now that this meet is a month away, I’m now in semi-panic mode. I need to learn how to do this for the meet. So, much to my surprise, Coach has decided to speed up my progress a bit. Usually, he’ll give me a task, and that’s all I’m allowed to work on for many successive practices, which is boring. I think that since I’ve got this race in less than a month, he’s willing to speed the process up a bit. He even said that this week, I might be ready to take a complete stroke. Not multiple strokes in succession, mind you, but a single solitary stroke. Ha ha ha.

Today, I took half a stroke. Woo! Arm movements! So, I guess this week I get the arms worked out and then sometime btwn now and then I’ll work on my kick and timing (big laugh). This should be amusing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Trails on the Trail – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Will and I finally went on our 5 day camping extravaganza (!) to Big Bend National Park. We were supposed to go in March, but that got nixed due to me going to MA for work. The plan (and why I even try to plan is beyond me, b/c things never go according to plan) was to spend a few nights at Elephant Tusk (we stayed there last time, unmaintained 4x4 road = no other people for MILES!) and hike around in the desert and then move to another campsite for the remainder of the trip.

We leave Wed at 4:45 AM, make 2 gas/potty stops, and arrive at the park HQ at 2:30 PM. Woo! We get one night at Paint Gap (Will’s choice) and 2 nights at E Tusk. Decide to spend the final night in the Davis Mountains. Woo! We got our campsites!

We drive over to Paint Gap and unload our wordly belongings. Then we realize its hot. As in you can’t sit down or stand still b/c its sweltering out. In fact, the only way to create a breeze is to take a hike. I immediately curse myself for wanting to take a camping trip in the DESERT in APRIL when instead, I could have spent 5 days on a cruise in Mexico. Anyways, we swelter, the clouds show up, and life is tolerable.

The next morning, we get up, pack up, and head for the mountains. We hike up the Lost Mine Trail (1,100 ft elevation gain, top elevation of 7,650 – hey, I’m used to elevation of oh say 100 feet MSL, so being over a mile high is exciting for me!). Its nice and cool up there so, we find a nice tree, eat a picnic lunch, and take a nap. Well, Will took a nap and I got bored and decided to hike around and explore. We hang around for a long time, waiting for the desert floor temp to go back down to something tolerable. Begin hiking down at 3 PM. Its bloody hot on the hike down. So hot that we decide this isn’t fun anymore and we’ll spend one night at Elephant Tusk then book it the next morning to Davis, where presumably, its much cooler. We get to ET at 6:30, sure enough, its still hot, so we pop open the back of my Xterra and use that as shade. As there’s no SHADE in the DESERT (shaking head again – what were we thinking?) Go to sleep, wake up, pack up, and 4x4 out of the park to coolness.

We stay at the Davis Mtns state park, and well, its not really that pretty. Its brown and hilly, rather than oh, mountainy. But I guess Texans think anything with a bump is a mountain. But surprise! Its actually cool enough that you had to wear pants! Yay! So, we set up and veg. The park is close to the McDonnell Observatory, and we found out they do Star Parties, so after sunset, we mosied over there to look through their telescopes at the stars. Very cool. Get back to our campsite at 11:30 (I’m sure all the campers around us appreciated us driving up that late….) and its so cold I have to bust out my down sleeping bag and sleep the whole night with it over my head to keep my nose warm. We wake up the next day, decide to take the 2 PM guided tour of the observatory, which was cool. Will really likes physics, so he definitely got his geek on. Then we spent the rest on the night bumming around and doing a whole lot of nothing.

Sunday we pack up the truck and drive 8.5 hrs eastward to Houston. I have to say, we saw an awful lot of California license plates on the drive back home. Its like they released them all at the same time in a mass migration east. We’re thinking its spring break over there? But why would you drive across Texas for spring break? Ew….

And now, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

* Seeing someplace new: we’d never been to the Davis Mtns before (we went to Big Bend a few yrs back, but were sick, so it wasn’t that much fun – sense a theme?), so it was fun to explore a new place.
* The hike up the Lost Mine Trail was beautiful. Clear skies, mountains, no idiots on the trail. What more can you ask for.
* Good food – b/c I planned it. Sausage/peppers/onions, pork fajitas, Cajun dirty rice, steak. Mmmmm. I don’t screw around when it comes to camping food.
* Time to relax. Yay! I don’t get to sit around and read books very often, so that was nice.
* Seeing the planet Saturn in such detail, you could see the shadow that its rings cast upon the planet’s surface (badass!).
* Knowing more about constellations and star formations!
* We broke down and got an air mattress to sleep on. (Yes, Christine, I owe you an apology for making fun of you, although you sort of still deserve it b/c I still wouldn’t backpack with an air mattress). My hips go numb despite me buying one of the more cushy therma-rests, so we became soft and got an obnoxious air mattress. And we slept soundly each night. Damn, that means we’ll have to keep it.
* Pictures on Flickr of our trip (purty!)

The Bad:
* Desert in April is HOT. It doesn’t seem like upper 80’s should be all that hot, but when there’s no shade and all the rocks have been baking, its really no fun at all.
* The drive – 1500 miles round trip.
* The enormous amount of bug splatters on my Xterra. I’m gonna have to get it detailed….
* The night at ET, I laid down on my sleeping bag to go to sleep and immediately had a sharp stinging sensation on my left shoulder blade. I sat up and found a squashed bumble-bee on my bag. And the bastard stung me. Fortunately, I had hydrocortisone and bandaids, but damn.

The Ugly:
* Me going Tues – Sunday w/out a shower and being around a LOT of ppl at the observatory tour on Saturday. Good thing I brought some scented lotion!

I'm a sucker for cool packaging

Saw this wine in the grocery store last night. No idea if it tastes good - but the bottle sure looks cool!

I'll let you know how it tastes....