Friday, August 28, 2009

Orange Hurricane Toby

You know how, when you get your car washed, it always rains the next day?

Nobody told me something similar happens when you wash a dog.

We gave Toby a much needed bath last night. He smelled clean and fresh and his fur was extra soft and fluffy.

That lasted about 12 hours.

I came home from work this evening, and saw this on the floor:


My first thought, was "Toby peed? What the heck?!" because I can't remember the last time he had an accident.

Then I thought "Wait, what did he get off the counter?"

Then I remembered what we bought at the store last night.

A lotto ticket and 3 bottles of Orange Hurricane Boone's Farm. Which in and of itself is a pretty awesome purchase.

It was around this point that I realized my cheerful dog that normally greets me excitedly was laying on the ground trying to look innocent.


Notice the orangish stripe along the side of his mouth?


Yup. I caught him orange pawed.

I'm never giving him a bath again.


I woke up early and snapped the shots seen on the previous post. There was frost on the ground when I woke up, and it had been the coldest night we'd ever experienced hiking. Andy stayed bundled in his sleeping bag.


Then we set off for a 8 mile hike to our next campsite. We started in the meadow, then entered the woods and had to ascend 2000 feet over 2 miles - so it was a pretty steep uphill. When we reached the top, I reached into my pocket to grab out a delicious snack of Craisins. With altitude changes, comes air pressure change, comes a blown up package of Craisins.


A view from the top. We still had further to climb to reach our peak elevation, but this was the trail junction.


About a half mile after the junction, we reached our peak elevation not only for the day but also for the entire trip - somewhere around 10,700.


Notes on my husband's appearance:

- Number one, Andy has a large head. He has broke 3 pairs of sunglasses this summer because of his Toby-sized noggin. He used ahtletic tape to put this pair back together, which broke on the trail the first day.

- Number two, the wind caused Andy's bandana to blow upwards.

- Number three, he's still trying to figure out how to smile for pictures.

- Number four, I love him.


We then walked along a ridge for a few miles to settle into our campsite, hidden in the trees next to the waterfalls of Fletcher Lake. I mean, the Knight's Inn in downtown Kalamazoo next to the liquor store was probably the best scenery I've slept by, but I guess this takes a close second.



The boys climbed up to the snow and threw snowballs at marmots. Because they're 10 years old like that.


I snuck out at sunset to snap some pics of the changing colors.




We laid out on the rocks and watched a few falling stars before the cold overcame us and we cozied back into the tents to rest up for the next day's hike.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In a Tent Down by the River


When someone shouts "BEAR!" you tend to wake up pretty quickly. I poked my head out of the tent and about 20 yards away was a cub, maybe 1 year old? He was nosing around the neighbor's campsite.

What I didn't know, was that he had just come from OUR campsite. Dennis saw him messing with Terp's bag before he wandered over to harrass the other campers. They were successfully able to scare him away by yelling and clapping. This was the first of our bear sightings in Yosemite.

Since we were all wide awake we decided to get things together and head into the Valley of a Million People. We had to wait until 5pm for the shuttle to bring us up to Toulumne (our point of entry) so we had plenty of time to kill. We drank a few more beers, ate a few sandwiches, took a few naps and spent some time at the Visitor Center. John Muir and I became best buds.


Finally, our shuttle arrived and our awesome driver tackled the curvy roads like a pro. This means he honked his huge bus at anyone that dared slow down, stop improperly along the road, or if they just looked at him funny. He was kind of angry, but I kind of liked him.

At around 7 pm we left the trailhead which meant we had about an hour of sunlight left. We were required to get 4 miles out before setting up camp. However, Dennis and Terp ran into "someone who seemed official" on the trail who told them we could camp anywhere in the meadow ahead. This was only about 2 miles out, but since the light was fading fast, we decided to call it quits and nestled into some trees along the river.

I actually got up and took most of these photos the next morning as the sun rose, after a chilly night which saw the temperatures dip below freezing.







Tuesday, August 25, 2009

When Mom and Dad are Away . . .

. . . the Toby Monster will play.

That's right. I just got the update from the in-laws on Toby's week and a half with them.

First, he ate through their garden hose whilst relaxing in the backyard.

Second, mother-in-law was eating a sandwich, got up to change the channel, came back, and the sandwich was gone and Toby was smiling.

Third, mother-in-law was preparing school supplies for her preschoolers while Toby napped on the air conditioning vent. She went upstairs for a few minutes and returned to a living room littered with paper. Apparently, the minute she left the room, the Giant Head made confetti out of the spiral notebooks. She said that when she discovered him, he looked at her innocently with a spiral wire hanging out of the side of his mouth.

And last, but certainly not least, mother-in-law bought a case of cat food. IN METAL CONTAINERS. Toby ate through the shrink wrap on the case. Then he ate through the METAL CONTAINERS. Then he ate the cat food. Then he repeated this until HALF OF THE CASE WAS EATEN.

We're taking them out to dinner tomorrow.

The First Day

We officially embarked for sunny California on Friday morning. The real work had come the night before, however, as we stuffed and readjusted our packs to make sure they weighed less than 50 pounds. I am not a fan of having to pay ANY money to check a bag and I sure as hell am not a fan of paying $100 to check a bag. Thankfully, we skirted in at around 45 pounds per bag when all was said and done.

We picked up the "Jeep Commander or similar" from Avis and it turns out we got something "similar" in a 7 passenger Ford Explorer. We somehow managed to clown car 6 people, 6 packs and assorted other carry-on luggage into and on top of the vehicle.


And thus began our 4 hour turned 7 hour trip into the park. Traffic was not our friend but we made it through the long and winding roads up over the mountains and down into the valley.

Also, apparently if you travel about 10 minutes away from the Pacific Ocean, Califonia turns into a barren, brown and yellow dessert-like wasteland where humans and the color green are seldom seen.

We settled into camp then ventured to the restaurant in Curry Village for some beers. However, after battling the hoards or visitors we ended up buying 4 Joe Six Packs at the village store and enjoying those away from the tourist trap bar and pizzeria. I can't remember the exact statistic, but it's something along the lines of the Yosemite Valley is the densest population of people inside a National Park. However, once you travel a mile away from any trailhead, Yosemite becomes the least dense population of people. After dealing with the high dense area for 5 minutes I was ready to run screaming 1 mile in any direction.

After savoring the last bit of beer my liver would would have the joy of processing for the next week, we fell asleep, only to be awoken around dawn to someone clapping and shouting "GET OUTTA HERE BEAR! GET OUT!"

Tales of Travels

I wish I could recap our whole vacation in one blog entry.

But guess what.

I can't.

So you're going to suffer through more than one post of me giving you all the details of the trip.

Deal with it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Turning Lemons Into . . . Beer?

We traveled the short distance to Sleepy Hollow State Park for our 2nd annual Adult Camping Trip last weekend.

Lucky for us, we picked the weekend A TSUNAMI hit mid-Michigan. This tsunami was so special it not only brought us heavy winds and copious amounts of rain, but it also brought boatloads of blood starved mosquitos. I'm convinced they were part mosquito part vampire bat, actually.

Friday evening was pleasant - hot dogs fried in bacon grease, Mexican Train dominos and a few beers around the fire. But then, as darkness hit, so did the Hurritornadunami.

Our tent stayed fairly dry - we used our beach towels - yes I just said beach towels. Isn't it hilarious how we thought we'd have a lovely sunny day and rent a pontoon to cruise the waters and need beach towels to dry off after taking a pleasant dip in the lake? HILARIOUS. Instead of using our beach towels the way they were meant to be used, we used them to soak up the water coming in through the seams of our tent. Around 9 am there was a small break in the storms and we took the chance to GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE.

So, what do you do when you're rained out of your camping trip? You go on an impromptu Old Town Lansing bar crawl at 10 am, that's what you do.

Bar #1: Art's Bar and Grill


Our bartender was awesome, I bought a 32 oz. of Blue Light for $3, Andy bought a 12 inch pizza and a pitcher of Blue for $12, and Kara's 3 double vodka soda waters were a whopping $9.60. Art's Bar, I think I love you.

Bar #2: The Unicorn Tavern


$1.50 pints of PBR, need I say more? Actually, yes, because this place was sweet. As we strolled in we noticed a middle age man napping at the bar with his shoes off and feet up. Awesome. Then the old man owner fed "his birds" outside and made sure everyone in our group saw his birds and then he went in back to take a nap. Double Awesome.

Bar #3: The Chrome Cat


This bar looked a bit nicer but a sign on the door said they had cheap pitchers of beer so we bit. It was actually a nice new place with delicious food.

Bar #4: Sir Pizza Cafe


Nothing special, but we saw the sign of "Beer & Wine" from afar so we had to check it out.

Bar #5: The Corner Bar


Judging by the sign, I thought this place would be way dirtier and awesome than it turned out to be. Oh well, we had our final beer and then went back to the campsite, since the rain had stopped.

We actually had another nice evening around the campfire but just like the previous night, Mr. Tsunami returned around nightfall. And this time he brought his friends, Mr. Thunder and Mrs. Lightning. As soon as the rain broke in the morning, we again took the opportunity to GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE. Upon returning home we promptly passed out on warm, soft, dry couches - let me repeat that - WARM SOFT AND DRY - did you know sleeping situations could consist of those three adjectives? WEIRD.

So thank you Adult Camping 2009, for giving me a better appreciation of the simple things in life - adequate shelter and beer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Stuff #7 - When People Make Car Noises

I listen to a lot of NPR and one of my favorite shows is Car Talk.

Why is this one of my favorite shows?

Because I simply love it when people call in and make the noise their car is making in an attempt to get a diagnosis from Click and Clack.

You can listen to last week's show for an example. Sue describes a problem with her '94 Jimmy:

"It makes a funny noise when you first start it up and it's cold. It makes a loud noise. Kind of a roaring noise. WHOOOORRAH!! I'll do it again. WHOOOOORRAH!!"

And then I laugh.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Only in da U.P., eh?

On Friday when we went up to Marquette, we did not have a hotel room booked. We just planned on finding a cheap little place to stay with our 2 other friends who had driven up.

Well, we found just that and more in the Venture Motel.

Our first sign that it was going to be an awesome place, was that it was right next to a hole-in-the-wall bar.

So, Andy strolls in to get a room for all of us. Upon reaching the office he reads the following note on the door.

"I'm working at the bar next door. Come over if you need something."

Andy then walks over to the bar, and sees the toothless bartender and 2 ladies sitting at the bar. He says, "Hey, I'm looking for the owner of the Motel - I wanted to get a room for the night."

All three ladies begin laughing.

The bartender tells him, "Oh honey, she just left and I think you better check some place else for a room."

So, a slightly confused Andy heads back towards the car, but then notices the office door is now open and there are 2 women in there. He enters the office and inquires about getting a room. The owner, a 65 year old woman named Suzy, is knee walking drunk. Falling over, word slurring sh*tfaced drunk. Luckily she has a friend there to help get Andy a room. She tried to run Andy's credit card about 5 times, but couldn't push the right buttons. Finally her friend stepped in to enter the correct amount and get us our room.

We dropped off our stuff, took Terp out for a few beers in downtown Marquette, then returned for a nightcap at the bar next door. We chit chat with the bartender a bit. She seems surprised when Andy tells her he was able to get a room. She then informs us of what happened with Suzy after she checked us in. Apparently, she wandered back to the bar and wanted her car keys so she could drive downtown. The bartender obviously didn't give them to her, so Suzy got angry and yelled "Fine! Then I'm walking!!" Mind you, downtown is at least a mile awhile, and at this point I doubt Suzy could have spelled her own name.

So, we had a few more drinks and got 6 cans of Strohs to go. As we headed back to the motel, a cop car pulled up. The cop gets out, acknowledges us with a nod, then opens the backseat door and says, "Alright Suzy, we're here. Do you have your keys? Can you make it through the door?"