Sunday, May 22, 2011


May 13, 2011

We are surrounded by Mormons.

I mean, that's not a terrible thing, of course. It's just an observation.

Today was going to mainly be a driving day, but when we left our hotel, we went back to Arches National Park to see Double Arch.


It was huge!  We had a great time climbing over the rocks, but unfortunately, none of us located Coronado's Cave. :(

In case you aren't aware, the opening shots of the third Indiana Jones movie were filmed in Arches, specifically around Double Arch, Park Avenue, & Balance Rock. Of course, Harrison Ford wasn't in the opening scenes of the movie, but close enough.

We drove back by Park Avenue, and then over to the visitor's center before we got on the road again. We were going to have to cross most of the state of Utah, so it was going to be a long drive!

We did make one more stop on the way, though. Mr. Lee wanted me to see Dead Horse Point state park! 

We were sooooooo very high.

Nice name, huh? It sounded like a biker bar to me, but it was a lovely park near Canyon Lands.  I've heard two versions of the story about how it got its name. Apparently, it was common for cowboys to round up wild mustangs by chasing them into box canyons, where they would then build a fence across the opening to keep them inside, kind of like a natural corral. Instead of a box canyon in this case, though, it was a high area with a narrow opening and sheer cliff walls that went straight down into a canyon. One story says that a group of horses were accidentally left fenced into the area where they died of thirst. The other story was that the horses were culls, and the cowboys left them there on purpose. In any case, a lot of horses died there, so the name is apt.

The view was amazing, and you could see part of the Colorado river in the canyon below.  I probably shouldn't have been worried about Steve pushing me off of a cliff, because he is scared of heights and would freak out if I leaned over the wall even a little bit! :) 

After we left, we started our long drive. The view on the drive was a lot like a Wyle Coyote cartoon, bit rocks, cacti, and mountains. We passed from big red rocks, to big yellow rocks, to big gray rocks, to small tree covered mountains, to snow covered mountains, back to red rocks again. Utah is a gorgeous state!

We got into St. George, Utah, where we were going to stay for the night, and we grabbed an In & Out burger! I'd heard of them, but they don't have locations in Alabama to my knowledge. It was really good! It was also really crowded. I guess we know where all the cool kids got for dinner in St. George!

Friday, May 20, 2011


May 12, 2011

Today was a busy day! We headed off down the road a way to Mesa Verde, or as I've been calling it (to mess with Mr. Lee) Salsa Verde. It was an amazing drive onto these big, green mountains, and we could see some snow capped mountains in the distance! Mesa Verde is a national park where you can go and see the abandoned cliff dwellings of the Anasazi, or as the PC Police are calling them, Ancestral Puebloans. Pffft.

And this is where I go off on a tangent:

OK, see, the Navajo basically named this tribe because the name Anasazi means "Ancient Enemies" in their language.  Now, either these "Ancestral Puebloans" didn't have a language (either written or spoken) in which they were named, or the fact that they sort of disappeared in the 13th century means that the name was lost to history - I dunno.  What I do know is, with due respect to the latter day cliff dwellers, is that it's silly to try and change the name that history knows you as, simply because it names you as someone's enemy.  They obviously didn't get along with the Navajos, ergo...they would technically be their enemies, and since the true name is unknown, then it seems logical to keep the name that was given.  My tribe happens to be called Cherokee, which means "Tree People" but I haven't tried changing it because I don't live in a tree.  Besides, Anasazi kind of sounds bad ass and mysterious.

But, I digress...

It was really interesting to see the cliff dwellings.

Cliff Palace.  Awesome.

 I'd seen some of these dwellings in books before and had no idea where they were, so I was excited! We didn't want to go on the guided tour, so Mr. Lee drove us around and we stopped where we wanted to and took pictures. We had to take a really long trail to the first one, so we got to see them up close. It was a tough hike since we were at such a high elevation and the air was so thin, but it was worth it! Unfortunately we got down to the ruins at the same time as a very large school field trip of children, so we had to dodge around them to get pictures without kids in them, but we managed. I was a little disappointed to learn that some of the ruins had been rebuilt.  When I go to see history, I want to see it the way it's supposed to look!  Of course, I can't complain too much, because if someone hadn't done some work on them, they probably wouldn't still be standing.  Oh, well, I still totally enjoyed it. We saw so many neat things and the weather was gorgeous. It was warm with cool winds. By far it was the best weather we've had this whole trip! We stayed at Mesa Verde until the afternoon and moved on to our next stop, Moab, Utah.

We only stopped long enough to drop off our luggage at our hotel before we were on our way to the next adventure. We stopped at a Wendy's for a quick dinner, and Steve was almost jumped upon by a very friendly Native American child.  He got away from his parents and was intensely interested in what everyone was eating.  Luckily, he saw another family that looked more interesting and left before he stuck his hand in our food.  That other family wasn't so lucky.  Also, I'm fairly certain that the guy who took my order cheated me out of a baked potato.  I mean, I was OK without it, but we did pay for it and when I told him he'd forgotten to give it to me, he looked like I was crazy.  To be fair, though, he probably wanted me out of there quickly and thought a potato would slow me down...I did sort of look homeless by that point. He wouldn't want me pan handling in his restaurant, I guess.

We entered Arches National Park to take a quick-ish turn around the park to see a few things before it got too dark. I know I'm beginning to sound kind of cheesy since I keep raving about everything, but I can't help it. Arches was awesome. I mean that in the most literal sense. It fills you with awe. I've enjoyed every place we've been thus far, but this place is just...I don't know. Jaw dropping, I guess. It is beautiful, of course, but it's more than that. I wish all of you could have been there to see it.

Park Avenue

One thing Steve wanted especially to see was Delicate Arch, which is a very famous formation. We couldn't take the hike (Mr. Lee's leg and my ankle were not doing too hot, and the hike was 15 freaking miles long) so we went to a viewing area a couple of miles away. I'm not going to lie, it had gotten hot and I whined about the hike. I felt bad later, but it was such a long walk, my foot hurt, and it was hot! I think I've found the secret to keeping me happy while doing outdoorsy stuff: keep me from getting hot.

Write that down.

Delicate Arch is the one on the Utah license plates.
It's actually quite big, but we were kind of far away.

Other than the being hot thing, though, I was doing fairly well until I noticed my shins were burning pretty badly. At first I thought it was just from the hike, but it felt like something had bitten me. I was wearing jeans, so I rolled up the cuffs and noticed that that the skin on my legs had gotten so dry that it had cracked and red sand had gotten in it. Nice. Yuck. Ouch.

Since the light was failing, and since were were going to go back to see the stuff we missed tomorrow morning, we left the park to go back to the hotel. I wish we had more time to visit the town of Moab, because it has all kinds of little shops and restaurants that look interesting. I know Mr. Lee would let me go if I asked, but it would put us way behind. Oh well, maybe another time! 

We got back to our hotel, super tired and very dirty, had a vending machine dinner and sacked out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


May 11, 2011

We headed out of Page in the morning and began driving towards Monument Valley.  We had to make a stop at Wal-Mart to buy lotion. We all have begun feeling scaly. Seriously, it's so dry that you dont even feel completely wet in the shower! Poor Steve has been getting nose bleeds in the morning because of this. I don't mind the dry air, though, because you don't get soaked with sweat even when it's hot and you don't have to use a hair dryer! Of course, my hair looks crazy, but luckily I brought a large supply of hats! My hands feel like snake skin, which is gross, and my arms and legs feel like I have a thin layer of rubber over my skin, so Gold Bond to the rescue! Also, and I can't be sure why, but everything smells faintly like a burnt match. I'm even tasting sulfer, but I don't know where it is coming from. I also have a constantly dry mouth and my face feels weird. Climate changes do weird things to me.

Although the scenery is very beautiful, after a while it all starts looking the same! Still, I couldn't stop looking out of the window! As we drove, Me. Lee found a Navajo radio station, which we listened to even though we had no idea what they were saying. I tried sending a picture to some of you from my phone, but again service was spotty at best. Maybe you'll get it one of these days.

We stopped briefly in Kayenta, Arizona because we found another shop that sold the pumpkin cookies we like! SCORE! Then we drove a bit further and entered the Land of Very Big Rocks.

One thing I had forgotten about traveling with Mr. Lee, is that he goes full on "honey badger" when it comes to take pictures. It's so funny! He has been known to climb fences, trespass, and simply drive out onto dusty ranch roads to get the perfect shot. Today was no different. First thing, he swung onto a ranch road on someone's property, within sight of their house, parked on the shoulder and walked out into a pasture. I just knew we'd get shot! I jumped out and snapped a quick shot or two, but Lee was out there for a long while. Steve and I watched him as he took pictures, and then we saw him moving some stuff around. We were too far away to really tell what he was doing.  When he finally got back to the van, I asked what he had moved, and he told us it was a horse skull!! Gross! He said it added the element he needed for his picture, but still... I hope the picture was worth dragging around a skull!

We finally reached Monument Valley, and apparently, things are much nicer there than they used to be. There is a large, modern building that has a museum, gift shop, and restaurant there. It was very nice!

We Got back into the van and made our way down the semi-paved roads into Monument Valley proper! It was unbelievable!

 I've never seen anything like it before. I mean, I've seen pictures, but none of them do it justice. The buttes were just enormous and red and beautiful. Mr. Lee and I took dozens of photos. We'd drive, stop, jump out and take pictures. It was so much fun. I got scared that Mr. Lee was going to fall off of a cliff, because he was so wrapped up in taking his pictures that he didn't seem to be watching where he was going. Luckily, though, we all made it out alive. There were a few bad moments where I thought I was going to barf, because the roads were terrible. They were not much more than ranch trails, and driving on them shook us around terribly. I didn't barf, but it was a close call.

Oooooooh! We saw tumbleweeds! Real, live, tumbling tumbleweeds!!! I squeed.

It was still cold, and it got very windy. At the first stop, a gust of wind hurled sand and dust into my face and it got into my eyes and stuck in my lip gloss. Yuck. If the wind hadn't been blowing, it probably wouldn't have been cold. Oh well, I still say it's better than being hot!

We took pictures for several hours, and went to Gouldman's Trading Post museum and restaurant for lunch. It was fun walking through the museum!

After that, we moved on to the Four Corners, where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet! It was the ultimate foot picture opportunity!

An epic place for a foot picture!

 We walked around the center point, and Steve took pictures of my feet in each state. I realized while looking at them that I'm so pale that I look green. It's not easy, you know.

We were staying in Cortez, Colorado, and when we got to our hotel it turned out we got a honking big suite. We think it might have been an apartment at some point, because the dimensions didn't make sense when compared to the rest of the hotel. Also, Steve and I found a creepy little kitchen right off of our bedroom.

*Psycho Music*

 It's old and doesn't look or smell as if it had been used in a long time. It also has a doorway to the outside, so we were a bit creeped out thinking that someone could just walk into our room in the middle of the night. We locked the door and hoped no weird people would walk in and try to spoon us in the middle of the night. The hotel is great, but that kitchen just doesn't make sense and it weirded me out.

May 11, 2011

Go West, Young Man! (Er...youngish woman)

I don't see how anyone can get used to living in Springdale. It's so gorgeous, I'd spend all my time looking out of the window! I suppose you can get used to anything, though.
After breakfast, we got back on the road and headed to Page, Arizona.

On the way out of town, we stopped at the Human History museum in Zion to get some pictures of the park since the sun was out today. There is literally no place you can look where the scenery isn't beautiful. It doesn't even look real, it's so pretty.  I bet there are places in heaven that look like this. I wish I could show it off to everyone I know. I actually tried, but cell phone signals are not so great out here.  Hopefully someone got the picture I took!  :)

Our next stop was the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, which was kind of an "on the fly" trip. After the ginger at the gate got kind of nasty with Mr. Lee for not knowing how to get inside of the park, we made it to the dunes and they were so cool! They popped up out of nowhere. You're driving along, looking at trees and big rocks and then BAM, you're looking at pinkish-orange sand dunes! Awesome. I walked down onto them and promptly almost fell down, of course. I managed to stay on my feet, and somehow I got a mouthful of sand.  I determined that the sand dunes didn't like me, so I went back to the parking lot. It was cold out there, too.

I dozed off and on when we got back on the road, so I didn't see an awful lot until we got into Kanab, Utah. We ate lunch at a pretty fair Mexican restaurant (a local favorite) and did a little shopping. We went to a place where there were some absolutely gorgeous silver and turquoise jewelry that I wish I could have bought, but it was antique and cost more than I could afford! Boo.  We drove out of Kanab towards our next stop, and it started raining again. Apparently, we brought rain to the desert. Usually, we only take rain when we travel east, so, go figure. It had also been hailing hard enough to make the ground look covered in snow in some places. While I was very glad it wasn't anywhere near as hot as the last time we were here, I was a little surprised that it would be so cold!

There is one thing that kind of sucks about traveling out here, and that's the complete lack of knowing what time it is. The time zones change without warning, and then it depends on whether you are on or off the Navajo reservation. As of now, we might as well say we are on Western Howdy Doody Time.

We soon drove out of the rain and into beautiful sunshine as we entered Glens Canyon.

 It was so beautiful! I wish there hadn't been buildings out there to get in the way of my pictures, but oh well. It was also warm, so I got out and walked around a bit. Mr. Lee found a flowering cactus, and when I knelt down to take a picture, I don't know if I fell or just forgot that cacti were spiny, but my hand went right onto it. Ouch! I spent the next few minutes plucking spines from my fingers.

Stupid, stabby cactus!

Our next stop was in Page, Arizona, where most of the things we had planned kind of fell through. The shop where we usually get special pumpkin cookies had closed (boo!), the slot canyons were closed, and (and I hate to admit this) I chickened out of climbing up to see the horseshoe bend. Mr. Lee couldn't make the climb because he'd twisted his knee, and Steve didn't want to see it, so there wasn't anyone who could shame me into going. Shut up! There were no guard rails! It was 1000 feet to the river below, and you have to go right to the edge to see it. Also, and I know this isn't fair, but I have an irrational fear that Steve is going to push me off of a cliff. I've been having nightmares.

We finally just went to the hotel to check in, and we all fell asleep. I think we're all turning into old people. I woke up when Glee came on and spent an hour trying to explain to Steve and Mr. Lee what was going on and who everyone was. Fun, that. Later, we went out to pick up a quick dinner and spent the rest of the evening sitting around. I didn't mind, though. We had a lot of stuff planned for the next day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


May 10, 2011

Leaving Las Vegas

This morning we reluctantly woke up and headed out of the city.  There was a lot of road to cover before we made it to our next stop.  We had breakfast at a Carl's Jr. restaurant, and I had to slap Mr. Lee on the arm for telling the lady behind the counter that they needed to get the food we have at Hardee's back at home. I swear, he's turning into Grandma. :)

We got back on the interstate, and it was like driving across the surface of Mars. Well, if Mars had scrubby bushes, that is.  Don't get me wrong though, it's beautiful country. Long stretches of flat desert bordered by rocky hills and mountains. It looks like everything is close but Mr. Lee says that the clear air magnifies, so we were actually very far away from them. It was really pretty. There were a couple of places where my brain had trouble processing what I was seeing. It was just mountains, but my head kept expecting to see Alabama type scenery. I was instead looking at something completely unfamiliar and I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. It was a weird sensation!

At one point, we were going along a long, flat road, and suddenly it seemed like mountains came out of nowhere and jumped in front of the car.  Before I knew it, we were driving through a canyon inside the mountains. It literally took my breath away for a minute. I mean, you hear about that happening, but has it ever really happened to you? I almost had to grab my inhaler, but I managed to start breathing again. :) Good Lord... It was huge and deep and amazing. I wish I could have taken pictures, but we were moving too fast. Seriously, when you start feeling like you're important, I suggest you go to that canyon and be reminded how small you are in the scheme of things.

We made our way through the unbelievable scenery and into a small town called Hurricane, Utah, where we stopped for gas, ice cream, and jackets. Believe it or not, it was chilly outside. Neither Steve nor I had brought coats, because the last couple of times we had traveled out there, it was blazing hot. We were not prepared for the late spring weather! We couldn't really find what we were looking for, so we had to settle for some cheap Wal-Mart workout suit jackets. We figured they would be good enough. Heh.

Oh, and Hurricane had the most gorgeous roses I'd ever seen! Just FYI.

We made it into Springdale, Utah, where we would be spending the night at The Brambleberry Inn. We actually stayed there the last time we visited the west, so it was nice to be in a familiar place. It was a bit overcast and only a little chilly, which wasn't too bad. Since we had gotten to our hotel sooner than we had expected, we decided to take the tram into Zion National Park, which was just down the street. While we were waiting on the tram, I decided to run back to our room and grab Mr. Lee's and my jacket. Steve didn't want his (that part is important). It wasn't really cold, but I was a little chilly at the bus stop and figured it wouldn't hurt to bring it along.  I'm very glad I did.

I haven't been everywhere in the world yet, but 
Zion is easily the most beautiful place I've seen so far.

Zion National Park is in this gorgeous valley below high Navajo sandstone cliffs. It attracts all kinds of people, from the wheelchair bound to serious survivalist rock climbers and hikers. It's the kind of place where you might get shivved by a hippy if you "Take more than pictures" or "Leave more than footprints." When we got on the park bus to go to a place called "Weeping Rock", it was just starting to sprinkle, and we were joined on the bus by some of the hard core outdoorsmen. They were outfitted with Camelbacks, hiking gear, and heavy rain parkas. When they walked on, I had a moment of smugness when I saw their rain gear. I thought, "Huh, they're so tough, but they can't stand to get a little damp. Wimps." When we reached our stop, Mr. Lee must have been feeling the same smugness, because he called all the people not getting off of the bus "cowards."

That's when God punished us for our hubris.

The path up to Weeping Rock is very steep, but not impossible to climb. Steve, Mr. Lee and I began up the trail, and the rain got harder. No big deal, right? Steve didn't want to continue up the trail, but I shamed him into it. Lee had to stop and change a camera battery, so we went on without him.  Just as Steve and I got to the top, the rain started coming down with a lot of force and it started to hurt. Of course, that's when it stopped being rain and started being hail. We ran up the steps and hid under the rock as the hail pelted down.  I'd love to say that the rock provided a lot of protection from the water, but it's called "Weeping Rock" for a reason.  It constantly drips underneath.  Nice.  Mr. Lee eventually struggled up the trail, wet and beaten with ice, to hide under the rock with us. We got a chance to take a few pictures, and when the hail stopped, we decided to walk back down to the tram stop.  Before we were halfway down, the hail started up again with a vengeance. I've never stood out in a heavy hail storm before, and I don't think I ever want to do it again.  The ice bits were like rock salt! I was already wet and cold, so the hail beating down stung like a mofo. We're lucky the hailstones didn't get any bigger! Poor Steve was wearing shorts and no hat, plus, he hadn't brought his jacket, so he was getting the worst of it. By the time we made it to the bus shelter, we were freezing cold and soaked through. The temperature had dropped, so instead of soldiering on to another stop, we hopped the bus and rode it back to the visitor's center. We were miserably wet and cold. We finally got back and had the chance to warm up a minute or two before the visitor's center closed, and then we caught the tram back to our inn.

The rest of the day was dull in comparison.  We changed into dry clothes, had dinner, and we huddled user blankets for a long time after trying to get warm.

I'm never making fun of people in panchos again.

May 9, 2011

I woke this morning in my clothes, on top of the covers, and face down in a pile of pillows. Well, I almost had all of my clothes on. Thank God I was wearing two shirts, because I only had the outer one on one arm and the rest of it was wrapped around my head. I must have been extremely sleepy to manage that. I don't even remember going to sleep. Maybe it was a defense mechanism that kicked in while we were watching Desperate Housewives. *Shudder* By the way, What the hell is it with resorts and all of the pillows? Who needs 9 pillows? Even with Steve's giant head, he doesn't need that many pillows.

Anyway, amazingly, we didn't oversleep this morning, but I suppose we have our Central Standard Time brains to thank for that. I was afraid we'd slept the whole morning away, but when I scrambled to look at the clock, it was only 6:00 A.M.

Want to give your sphincter a workout first thing in the morning? 
Look out of a floor-to-ceiling window on the 36th floor when you forget you are that high.

Since Mr. Lee had the meeting with the resort people today, Steve and I were on our own. After breakfast, we walked across the street to The Sahara* and looked around a bit. The Sahara seems weirdly empty, but that could have been because it was a Sunday morning. We won $5 in the casino! Of course, we managed to lose that 5 dollars at the other casinos, but it was fun while it lasted.  After that, we got on the Monorail (can't seem to get away from those, can I?) and went as far down Las Vegas Blvd as we could.  We took a few pictures, and then we walked down to the Luxor and wondered around.

 New York, New York Hotel and Casino

 The Luxor. The pharaohs only WISH they had a pyramid this big.

We actually just walked from casino to casino and looked around. I think we walked a hundred miles today, which probably wasn't great for my ankle. It hurt. A lot.  I had the ankle brace on, but it basically only kept my foot from twisting again. I was apparently too dumb to take an aspirin before venturing out. :{

On a good note, I found Macarons!!!!! WOOT! I figured if anywhere would have them, the Paris Las Vegas Hotel would have them! Yay!  Actually, it was a place called the Sugar Factory attached to the hotel, but whatever.

Josh would not approve!

 Ahhhhhhhhhhh! *Angel Chorus*
You want to know the truth?  These cookies were prettier, but my cookies tasted better! :) At least now I know! AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE!

We also went to the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace and looked around. I realized pretty quickly that a) I can't fit into any of the clothes any of the stores sell, and b) I couldn't afford them even of I could wear them. Boo. So, I did the only thing I could think of, I went back to the Vosges Haut-Chocolate store and got some stuff I'd never tried before! Don't judge me. Thankfully, I didn't buy three tons of fancy chocolates that had to be temperature controlled from there this time. I bought a reasonable amount of boxed stuff that could be carried around in my backpack. The girl behind the counter even gave me a free one! NOM!

Have I mentioned that Cirque du Soleil freaks me the hell out? It really does.  It isn't normal for people to move in those ways and it scares me.  I don't even like watching them on television.  Also, Cirque du Soleil is EVERYWHERE in Las Vegas. You can't get away from them! So I spent my time here flinching away from the posters and banners. Whee.

The whole time we were out, the wind was blowing like crazy. I mean, the news said there were 60 mph gusts and I believe it! All of the rollar coasters and other outdoor rides were closed because of it. It was blowing so hard that it was really hard to walk against, and it was slinging very fine sand into our faces. I got a couple of pieces in my eyes, which was quite unpleasant. At one point, I opened my mouth to say something, and a gust of wind blew sand down my throat. Yuck! You think God was telling me something?  ; ) My foot was hurting so bad, and we were so tired and hot, that we decided to come back to the hotel. My ankle was swollen worse and bruised, my hair was just...insane, and I had a fine crust of sand all over my face. I looked lovely. When I went to the bathroom to wash my face, I noticed that the wind had blown one of my earrings right out of my ear lobe!  Lucky it wasn't expensive or anything, but it was one of my favorite ones.

Hastared wind.

Mr. Lee came in a few minutes after we did and we decided to go and get dinner. We jumped in the car and went to The Bellagio to try their famous buffet. It was delicious, which was a surprise. Usually buffet food tastes industrial to me, but this was very good! It was also expensive, and I didn't feel as if I ate enough to justify the price.  The hotel itself was gorgeous, and I wish there hadn't been so many people there because I would have loved to get closer to some of the Marino glass sculptures. They were made by frickin' Dale Chihuly! Can you believe it?!  I am such a dorky fan of that guy, but I never thought I'd get to see any of his stuff in person. It was GORGEOUS!  

We were all still pretty tired after we ate, jet lag I suppose, so we went back to the hotel and sacked out. I wish there had been more exciting adventures, but it was at least a fun day! :)

*EDIT: I had no idea The Sahara was closing down! How sad. :( It really was a lovely building. No wonder it was so empty.  If we had known, I might have tried stealing one of the chandeliers! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011


'Allo! I'm finally back in the south and trying to readjust my sleeping patterns! Enjoy!

Las Vegas, Nevada!

May 8, 2011

This morning, Steve & I woke up at the butt-crack of dawn and hustled over to Mr. lee's house so that we could start our adventure! We had been discussing another trip out west for a couple of years now, and since Mr. Lee had signed up to do one of those "Please buy a timeshare" spiels, we decided to begin our trip in Las Vegas this week!

We had no problem with our flight out of Huntsville, and we even had a fairly easy time with our flight from Atlanta. The flight was full and our seats were in the very back of the plane.  Sitting in the back doesn't bother me, but it must bother other people quite badly. These old biddies sitting behind us, who had apparently only made it onto our flight on a stand by list, complained a lot about where they were seated. It really got on my nerves! Add to that the fact that they talked loud, brought smelly food onto the plane, and kept getting up and wondering around the plane. Who does that? They'd stand up and just hang out in the aisle, much to the chagrin of the flight attendants who were pulling big carts down the aisle. In fact, a lot of people just stood up and wondered around during the flight. I just kept to my seat, alternately reading, staring out of the window, and dozing off. At one point, I fell asleep and dreamed I was on a train. I woke up suddenly, my mind still convinced I was on a train, and I was looking right out of the window. The weather was very clear, so instead of seeing trees passing by, I was looking straight down on middle American farmlands at least 35, 000 feet down. I had a split second where my Crazy Town brain almost kicked in and I came within an ace of screaming. Luckily, I remembered where I was in time. I'm sure everyone appreciated that! We only had one fairly bad moment when we were landing. The winds were pretty harsh, and they were shaking the plane badly. I can get motion sick fairly easily sometimes, and even though I'd been fine up to this point, it hit me quickly. The absolute last thing I want to do is barf on a plane, so I grabbed for my backpack which had a bag of candied ginger in it. It's the only thing I've ever known that can stop nausea cold. Unfortunately, the man sitting in front of me had kept his his seat leaned back practically in my lap the whole flight, and my backpack was wedged under it. It was close, and I probably should have just horked on his head to teach him some traveling manners, but with one almighty heave (no pun intended) I hauled my backpack up and got to the ginger in time. Again, I'm sure everyone appreciated that!

We landed and managed to get onto the tram that would take us to the baggage claim area. It took us to the big part of the airport, where all of the shops and things are.  We had to walk a long way, and once we were almost there, we had to descend a set of stairs. Well, there was a set of stairs and a down escalator, but for some insane reason, I chose to use the stairs. I was doing fine, thinking to myself that if I had known how steep the stairs were, I wouldn't have used them, when my ankle turned. I heard a crunch and I went down. I managed to only fall down two of the stairs and catch myself by the hand rail before I went all the way down, but the damage had been done. I didn't fall far, but I fell hard. I ended up sitting on the stairs, with people going by asking if I was ok, and I managed to get up and walk, but my ankle was borked. I could walk, but it felt like cold needles were racing up and down my leg with every step. By the time we had gotten to our rental car, I knew it was sprained pretty badly. Unfortunatey, there was nothing I could do about it.  We couldn't check into our hotel yet, so we went to a little independant Mexican place and grabbed lunch (the food was amazing, by the way), and since we had planned to go to Hoover Dam to see the new bridge, I climbed a lot of stairs and walked almost all of the way across the bridge before I had to stop. We made it back to the car, and stopped a couple of times along the dam to take pictures, which didn't do my ankle any favors. I was tough, though, and kept my whining to a minimum! :)

We had to stop at Wal-mart and pick up a few things, so I got a lovely ankle brace to keep me from making things worse. So that's great. I'm on a walking/hiking vacation, and I managed to hurt myself first thing.

We are staying in a really nice place, one of the Hyatt Grand Vacation resorts right on the Las Vegas strip! Our room is on the 36th floor, and I haven't made myself look out of window yet. :) I felt like a homeless person when we first came into the place because we were hauling all of our luggage and a cooler when we waked in, and we had that grungy "we've been traveling all day" look. With all of these well dressed people walking around, I felt like one of the Beverly Hillbillies.

We didn't go out and do anything tonight because we we're all so tired and we have all day tomorrow to look around, so we just got room service and are hanging out in the room. Pratts Gone Wild, indeed.


Friday, May 06, 2011

Great. Just flipping great.

We had to take Bear to the vet early this morning and there was an "incident" with another dog.  He was already wound up when we got him in the car, and when we took him inside he didn't seem to get any calmer.  Since it was morning, I didn't think it would be much of a problem, but we somehow managed to get there just as a tide of dogs were being brought in for dog day care. (Yeah, I know.)  I don't know if he got scared, or if it was because he thought he was protecting Steve, who was holding him back, but a Cocker Spaniel came in and got in his face and Bear chomped down on his front paw and wouldn't let go.  They got them separated, and he didn't tear up the other dogs foot, but there was a hole in it and it was bleeding.  When we left the dog was in a consult room with one of the surgical techs.  The man was so angry.  I apologized, but I don't think he was listening to me.  We told the vet we'd pay for fixing the dog's paw, but I'm afraid that man will try and sue us or something.  He seemed really, really angry.  There is no way we can afford to be sued.  I'm not even sure how we can afford to pay for the other dogs bill, especially if he needs surgery or something.  The whole incident made me feel sick to my stomach, and I've been huddled in a ball alternately chewing my fingernails off and crying since we got back.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, and I'm hoping it isn't in the long run, but the man was SO angry.  Bear isn't a mean or bad dog, he's just stupid.  I feel so awful.

EDIT:  OK, I've calmed down a bit.  It was just reaction, I guess. I've never seen one of our dogs hurt any other dogs but each other and it scared me.  I also realize that the man couldn't successfully sue us since dogs are dogs and they bite sometimes.  I also saw everything and know that Bear didn't actually attack the other dog AND he was being restrained PLUS the fact that a whole herd of dogs came in and were growling and snapping at each other and it just so happened that the Spaniel happened to jump at Bear at just the wrong time.  I still feel terrible, though. We will, of course, pay to have the other dog's paw treated.  It was just awful to have my dog hurt another person's dog.  :(  I hope Bandit will be OK. 

Monday, May 02, 2011

Instead of the pictures I downloaded of the storm damage, I'm adding this video so you can get an idea of what happened to my hometown.

I'll apologize in advance for the "montage", but as you know, if something bad happens, someone is inevitably going to set it to music.

That was my town.

May 1, 2011

I was told that revolution was just three missed meals away. For me, revolution would begin the first time I couldn't flush my toilet.

Luckily, the water treatment plant that services our area wasn't damaged in the storms. We've had clean, running water this whole time and for that I'm very grateful!

I've actually figured out that the lack of power doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. Of course, I'm going on the assumption that the situation is only temporary, but still, most of the things I do don't require much electricity. It's inconvenient, but not terrible. I think if this had to be long term or permanent, I'd miss the internet the most. If for no other reason than because I have friends I'd never hear from again without internet access, which sucks. Oh well, that is just life in these modern times, right? Right now I've still got my iPad and iPod, which can be charged in the car to keep me from going completely technologically cold turkey, and the odd minute or so I can use Steve's phone to read Twitter or Facebook to make sure my friends are still out there. Not so bad, actually.

It's weird how empty the town feels. A lot of people got out of Dodge and off to greener, better lighted pastures once they realized how long we'd be off the power grid. I know that there are still plenty of people out here, but Huntsville is (contrary to popular belief) kind of a big town. I'm used to at least a modest amount of traffic and noise, even out here in the suburbs. The most cars I've seen in my immediate area lately have been at Target or Publix, and even then, there aren't as many as I've seen there before.

I made breakfast on a Sterno hot plate today!

We've been reduced to college dorm food. Those are
bacon bits on an egg sandwich. Oy vey.

We found one at a sporting goods store nearby, and we were very lucky to find it! Almost every piece of camp cooking equipment was snatched up long before we got there. The only reason it could even do us a bit of good was because I still had 2 leftover cans of Sterno from 2006, when I got an indoor s'mores maker. See, my magpie-like shopping habits have helped us out more than once during this ordeal! You can't find propane or sterno for love or money around here right now. I also had a little, tiny cast iron skillet that I got from my mother's house when she moved, and it fit perfectly over the flame. We keep finding little blessings around each corner these days.

We went to Mr. Lee's house again for another shower, and then over to my mom's house to take them some ice and charcoal. They'd been staying in Decatur, but had come home today to check on their dog and clean out their freezer. Poor them, they had only recently ordered a bunch of meat from Obama Steaks (actually Omaha Steaks, but my mom got confused) and she gave us some. We took a bit, but because we still have no power, we couldn't take as much as she was offering! My sister, who lives out in the willy-wags of Elkmont can take the rest, since their power has already been restored. Once again, we had steak for dinner, and we are vey blessed to have such good food, but I'll be honest, I'm getting tired of grilled meat. It's a treat most of the time, but having so much so often is getting cloying. I'd be happy to have a peanut butter sandwich at this point. We're also getting pretty good at baking stuff on the grill! We have managed not to burn anything yet, and honestly, that's a better track record than I have with the oven! :)

I think the dogs are going to be sad once everything gets back to normal. We've been giving them whatever leftover steak we couldn't keep, and they've been in hog heaven. Since we've been keeping the window in the kitchen open for the cross breeze, I've just been lifting the screen and feeding them the chunks of meat from right there. I think they have come to believe that it is some kind of magic doggie drive through restaurant.

As I had settled down for my new evening activity of crocheting in the semi-dark and listening to my iPod, at about 7:50, I was suddenly shocked into almost swallowing my tongue when the light next to my chair snapped on! It scared me! We heard cheers up and down our street as the streetlights came on, and seemingly every outside light flicked on as well. Steve and I stood in the middle of our living room just staring around. I felt like one of the monkeys at the beginning of the movie 2001: A Space Oddessy, cowering and throwing sticks at the big monolith they didn't understand.

We knew there was a chance that the power could just as easily go off again while the power company tweaked the grid, so we made sure not to run through the house flipping on everything that plugged in! I spent the next hour or so washing out the interior of the fridge, and washing dishes. Hey, you have your way of celebrating and I have mine! :) Unfortunately, we think the fridge no longer works. It makes sounds, but it isn't getting cold. Possibly, the power popping off like it did might have fried the wiring. That sucks so bad, because the fridge is not even a little bit old. Also, it's going to take me a year to remove all of my magnets and stuff from the front if we have to get a new one. :)

I'm very thankful that we have power again, and I hope it stays on instead of teasing us by going off just as we are getting used to it. I do have to admit, though, a part of me is really going to miss the quiet evenings. I enjoyed sitting in the semi-dark with the windows open, listening to the neighborhood dogs bark and not having the tv on constantly. It was nice. Don't worry, though, I didn't love it enough to go Amish or anything. I enjoy air conditioning, hot showers, and cooking without open flames too much. If I feel the need for a quiet evening again sometime soon, I'll just turn off the lights and listen to whale songs or something on the iPod. :)

April 30, 2011

Well, the electricity fairy didn't magically arrive in the middle of the night last night. Too bad. : ( Don't worry, we're still hanging in there. Steve and I have been incredibly lucky through all this, so I've begun to feel a little ashamed of myself for complaining about the lack of power. I mean, sure, it'd be nice to have the Internet for longer than a few minutes at a time, or the ability to watch television, but it's probably good for me to get away from some of that stuff for a while. There are so many people who have it worse.

We decided to go to Mr. Lee's house today and see if his gas water heater worked without electricity. It did! We both managed to get hot baths and we sort of looted his cabinets a bit. Steve says it's not looting if you know the person, but I still kind of felt bad. We will, of course, replace what we took. After leaving his place, we stopped by to check on one of my aunts who lives nearby and see if she needed anything. It's hard for me to believe that she is over 70 years old. All of my aunts, and my mom, are like perpetual teenagers to me. Aunt Peggy was fine and didn't need a thing, so we left her to check on my property. There is only one barn on the property, and it was fine. The only thing I saw was a couple of fence posts leaning askew. For all I know, they were like that before.

It was tough going out there, though. A lot of the roads were blocked, and National Guardsmen had checkpoints in many of the worst places.

The Military Branch of Men With Impressive Mustaches

This used to be woods.

I downloaded much clearer pictures from friends who actually went through the bad spots. Since they are on other computer at the moment, they will be uploaded later.

Even though we didn't drive through the worst of it, we still saw plenty. The landscape I knew so well has changed. Trees sheared off, houses obliterated, things just gone. It was heartbreaking. It was like going to see a friend in the hospital who's had a bad wreck and seeing them Scratched, scraped, cut, bruised, broken and hooked up to tubes. It made me so sad. I did find out that as of this writing, East Limestone hasn't been declared a disaster zone, but that is insane! More than half of it is gone! Hopefully, the homeless people in E.L. will qualify for some type of government funding to help them rebuild.

We had to completely empty both freezers and most of the fridge today, which sucked. There is no telling how much money went into the trash! I'm not even sure we should keep condiments, since I'm under the impression they have to be refrigerated for good reasons. At this point, we have mustard and a bottle of Godiva liqueur left in the fridge. The breakfast of champions! We were able to salvage a few things and put them on ice, but we won't be able to keep it all. I hate there will be so much waste, but we've had a couple of good meals out of it! We tried baking cookies on the grill.

They melded into one super-cookie, I guess.

It doesn't look like it, but they tasted good! We didn't even burn the bottoms! Woot!

It's been so nice outside lately. The humidity has been fairly low, so we've stayed outside more than usual. It would be nice if I could breathe, though. I've been sick since Sunday. I don't know of I have a cold, or if it's just my allergies. We usually have a special filter for allergens, but since the AC hasn't been running, it hasn't been doing me a bit of good. I've been snorting Afrin like it's got cocaine in it. I even tried wearing a medical mask outside, but Butler felt that he needed to lick it, so it didn't stay as clean as it should have. : )

We spent the rest of the evening sitting in the living room. Steve watched a movie on his iPod, and I listened to an audio novel while I crocheted. I have no idea what the stuff I crocheted looks like because our Coleman lantern isn't very strong. I guess I'll find out tomorrow! Also, I have a lot of scary audio novels, which aren't exactly great for listening to while I sit in the dark. Heehee!

April 29, 2011

I wonder how many people around here are ticked off that they didn't get to see the royal wedding? : )

For the first time ever, I kind of regret having the dogs. Well, not really regret having them, but regret that they never learned to travel without freaking out. I'd love to load up and head down to the beach while the power is off up here. It isn't that I can't stand the lack of power, but it sucks just sitting up here waiting. There isn't much to do and it's so quiet. Also, I wouldn't turn my nose up at a hot shower, either. Part of me kind of feels like I'm on an adventure, trying to figure out how to deal with everything without power. Another part of me wants to tell that first, adventurous part to blow it out of her rear.

Sorry, I don't mean to sound whiny, I'm just going a bit stir crazy, I guess. I realize that being dirty and a bit bored is a small price to pay to still have a home! Not everyone I know is so lucky. I got a chance to talk to my sister, and she told me that my nephew's girlfriend pretty much lost everything except some clothes, and it was sheer chance that neither she nor her mother were home when the house was hit. I also still haven't heard if anyone I know was killed or hurt. So far, no news is good news.

We actually did get to have an adventure today, though! We ran by and picked up Anthony, and then drove into Tennessee to locate charcoal and hopefully a hot meal. Someone had told Steve that the Wal-Mart in Tullahoma hadn't been stripped clean yet, so we set out to find it. We drove through some back roads until we reached Winchester, where we were able to fill up the car fairly easily. We couldn't fill up before then because pretty much every gas station was out of gas and The Men With Impressive Mustaches waved us away from the entrances. We actually didn't need gas that badly, and weren't even trying to pull into the stations, so we weren't in a bind or anything. We only filled up where we did because the station wasn't clogged with cars.

We didn't need to go into Tullahoma after all, because the Winchester Wal-Mart wasn't being descended upon. We didn't get any charcoal there, but we got a few other things we needed. We found plenty of charcoal at a Dollar General the cashier recommended. Since poor Anthony hadn't eaten yet that day, we went to Wendy's to get hamburgers! Woot! Sometimes fast food is the best comfort food. It was getting late by then, so we had to get Anthony home before the curfew. We got home after dusk (shhhhhhhh) and noticed that some places had already begun getting their lights back on. I'm crossing my fingers that our power grid is not too far behind.

Sunday, May 01, 2011


April 28, 2011

I spent all morning listening to the people calling into the radio station, talking about what had happened around North Alabama. It wasn't as depressing as it had been the night before, but it was still plenty awful. Mostly, it was people talking about where you could find places with power, gas, food and of course, the people calling in to ask idiotic questions. The on air talent was beginning to get a bit punchy with some of the callers, but it was deserved. It was as if people just weren't listening to what earlier people had said.

Of course, our power was still out, and we found out that we may not have any power for as long as 7 days. We are lucky that this happened during a relatively cool part of the year. No AC during really hot weather is no joke around here. Also, I don't feel like I can complain too much about the power being off. At least we still have our home!

Both fortunately and unfortunately, I had gotten groceries before the storms hit. Fortunate, because we weren't going to starve if the power had to stay off for a while. Unfortunate, because a lot of the groceries had been meat and dairy. We drank a lot of milk today. We also have to plan a big barbecue, because we are going to lose all of the food in the fridge in next couple of days.

It turned out that both Target and Publix were open, with limited power, so Steve and I went to see if we could grab a bag of charcoal. Of course, we were very late to the party and there was no charcoal to be found. There was also no bottled water, bread, and Pop Tarts were quite scarce. We left Publix empty handed, but were at least able to get a grill plate (for things usually too small to put on the grill) some pop tarts, lighter fluid, and 3 card games at Target. Oh, and as an aside, I'd love to know why the cashier at Target, the one I'm always super nice to, never fails to treat me like I've got cooties. I've gone through is line a billion times, and he's never once been friendly to me, even though he is friendly to the people before and the people after. Poor form, cashier, very poor.

I don't know what it says about my usual ideas about my fellow man, but I was pleasantly surprised that people behaved as well as they did at the stores. I was expecting things to degrade to the point of people wearing loin cloths and setting things on fire. I mean, you had some people sniping because people wouldn't get out of their way, but there was very little, if any, really, anger or fighting about anything. At least I didn't see any. Hopefully, that will continue.

We came home and cooked our first wave of rapidly thawing food: steak, chicken, and most of a box of egg rolls.

I didn't realize the power being out would necessitate going on the Atkins diet, but there you have it. I suppose the Pop Tarts will counterbalance the lack of carbs in my other food, though!
: )

My phone stopped sending messages or calls, but it could still receive for a while. I also haven't been able to reach my mom or sister, but I'm going to assume they are doing about the same as us. Steve's phone is still working, so we are lucky on that front.

As night fell, it seemed as if we were the last people on earth. I don't know why darkness is so isolating, but it closed around us and cut us off from everything and everyone. I had to commandeer Steve's iPhone and find someone to talk to who didn't live up here. It was nice to hear that the world was indeed, still turning.

Steve and I spent the evening reading, playing card games, and being quiet. At one point, we went outside and looked at the sky. I had no idea there were so many stars above our house! It was the first time I'd ever seen the sky out here without the usual light pollution. I agree with Steve, that it almost makes the lack of electricity worth it, just to see that.

- I was fortunate enough to have the iPad charged during the past few days, so I wrote about what was going on and then emailed it to myself once the power was restored! It's not all that gripping, but it kept me from getting bored! :)

April 27, 2011

Have you ever been woken up by a tornado siren? I don't recommend it. It's bad enough that the siren has bad connotations, i.e. Being a harbinger of a giant, whirling cone of death and destruction, but it is also frigging loud. It's probably less than 200 yards away from our house, so when it goes off...we know about it. Fearing for your life like that really puts a spring in your step no glass of Ovaltine can match, though.

It was early, but Steve and I dressed and turned in the TV to catch our awesome weather coverage. I swear, the weather men around here can follow storms like nobody's business. They know the time and place that one will strike with such accuracy, you're almost tempted to believe that they are the ones who set them in motion. Seriously, our state has awesome weather guys.

I'm glad to say that even though the world around us was seemingly disintegrating, the weather in our neighborhood stayed pretty stable. That probably sounds callous, but I don't mean it as such. Because we kept our power, once I was finally able to get in touch with my mom (who was fine, by the way) I could tell her what the weather men were saying about her neck of the woods.

There was one funny incident that I know I can't do justice, but once our power actually did go out, I was reduced to listening to the radio on a tiny FM thing I'd bought on a whim at the Dollar Tree. the radio station was allowing people to call in and tell them what was going on, since most of the stations had lost radar feed by that time. One guy, who had a very country accent, called in and said "Yeah, I'm standing out here on Sanderson Road, and there is golf ball sized hayle out here! *thumpthumpthump* jeezzus chryst, that there was baseball sized hayle! Did y'all hear that? jeezuz chryst!". I wish I had a clip of it to embed, because it was so funny!

That was the last thing that was funny, though. The longer I listened, the more depressing things got. Apparently, my hometown had taken the brunt of some very nasty weather. Things I'd grown up seeing, landmarks, places I'd grown up with were just "gone." That word got to be pretty scary after a while. So many people were calling the station to say things were "just gone." It was sobering.

The worst weather we had over our way was some freakishly heavy rain that maybe only lasted about 15 minutes. The rest of the time the sky was just cloudy and weird. A one point, some clouds right over our house seemed to almost boil, kind of like that scene in independence day when the alien ship entered the atmosphere. Creepy.

This doesn't do it justice. The clouds looked like someone was stirring them.

We also had a bad couple of hours when we couldn't get in touch with Steve's dad, and we'd heard that a big tornado had practically started across the street from him. Turned out that it was just a cell tower issue, and that he had fallen asleep and didn't hear the phone ring.

I also have to thank my best-good friend Kenny, who kept me as up to date as he could on what was going on after our power went out. He lives in Auburn, so he was able to keep watch on the weather and information being reported that would be of use to us, and send it to me by text message while he was twitter reporting about Tuscaloosa. Thank you, Kenny!