Friday, December 9, 2011

Like Son, Like Father

The memory of Toby's 3 ACL surgeries is still fresh as the snowfall we received in Michigan last night.

That's actually an old snowy Toby photo, but you get the idea.

His injury occurred 2 weeks before we left for Ireland.  My Mama helped nurse him back to heatlh while we were away.

So, here we sit, 2 weeks before we leave for New Zealand, for the hiking trip of a lifetime.

Toby's ACL is still in tact.

Andy's ACL?  Not so much.

He injured it at soccer and got the MRI results today. 

Fortunately the doctor thinks he can fit Andy for a brace that will keep him stable enough for hiking.  It might mean a little less than we'd planned, but we'll do what we can.  It might just mean we'll hike less and visit wineries more.  And more wine is never a bad thing.

So we'll delay surgery until our return.

At which point I should probably schedule a vacation and have my Mama nurse him back to health.

Whaddaya think Ma? At least you wouldn't have to fight to keep a cone on Andy's head.

So until we leave, Andy will be commiserating with the one furry guy who can best relate to his pain.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

O Canada

After Andy completely outdid himself surprising me for my 30th birthday, I knew I wanted to do at least a little something fun for him when he turned 30.

For some reason we passed on Chuck E Cheese and decided on a joint birthday road trip with friends to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

He was excited about the destination, but he screamed like a kid on Christmas when I told him our hotel was at the casino.  I also told him I would give him the gift of not standing over his shoulder and nagging his face off while he gambled.  I'm generous like that.

Soon after crossing the border, I began my love affair with Tim Horton's and proceeded to be fueled by TimBits for the rest of the weekend.

Our friend had a slight issue with his passport.  It was expired.  And it was 10 years old.  And he went bald.  And he grew a beard.  Thankfully some border agent took pity on him and let him pass.

Slight difference.

Andy borrowed another friends blazer to complete his "I'm an engineer" outfit.  Please note the too short jeans and white tennis shoes:


The next day we slowly made our way to the falls. Do you know how difficult it is to keep a group of 11 individuals who are easily distracted by shiny lights and beer together?  It's a lot like herding cats.  We almost managed one group photo:

Team America minus one.

We visited a brewery afterwards.  Although the beer was good, the poutine was even better.

More majestic than the Falls.

We continued indulging at a Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner.  That's two hours of unlimited meat delivered to your table every few minutes.  Although it left me with a stomach ache and gave me the meat sweats, it was still amazing.

After a little more drinking and gamling, our Canadian Dream came to an end and we made our way back home. 

O Canada.

Thanks for the memories, America Jr.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

This Thanksgiving

This morning I woke up and started to prepare my share for the family Thanksgiving meal.  As I started to prepare my stuffed mushrooms, I set out a container of cream cheese on the counter to soften:

At some point I went upstairs.  When I returned, this is all that was left of the box, cream cheese, and tin foil encapsulating the cream cheese:

Somebody feasted early today.

Today I'm thankful I had the foresight to buy two blocks of cream cheese.

Happy Thanksgiving All.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Furminator

On Sunday morning, many people 'round these parts brush up on their Bible at church.

I brush up on my dog instead.

Fur ever and ever, amen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Alive!

Work + Life = Busy These Days

This means I've neglected this blog for the past few weeks.  Here's a quick run down of what's been going on the past month of my life.

We tailgated with good friends:

Halloween happened:

Fireman Jackson was very excited.

We also went bananas for the holiday.

While one brudder was clueless about the fact he was wearing a costume, another brudder was less than amused.

We went to Chicago and I got to snuggle this little sweetie:

We continue to plan our upcoming 3 week adventure in this place:

That's the South Island of New Zealand kids, and it looks like one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Andy finally caught up to the rest of us and turned 30. 

On his birthday he declared, "Yeah, so I'm pretty mature now.  I no longer find fart jokes funny."

And then he farted and giggled like a 5 year old.

He also brewed about 25 gallons of beer in the past month.

Doesn't everyone come home from work to find a 5,000 mL flask full of yeast on thie stove?

Finally, because I want to make your Friday a little better, here's a video of a cat that sounds like an old woman saying "No, no, no."

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Hump Day

First, I kind of hate that people call Wednesday "Hump Day."

Second, I'm now going to talk about dog humping for the rest of this post.

Yes, that's right, the show has reached a new low.

If that kind of thing skeeves you out, you should probably stop reading now.

So, that dog Toby of ours.

He's kind of . . . special.

Actually, we connected the dots about why he might be so special a year or so ago.  In the memory of talking to Toby's breeder in the days after he was born, I recalled a certain bit of information.  I remembered her noting that "We lost one during the birth, but we were able to get him breathing again and now he's doing well."

We're fairly certain the puppy that lost oxygen during his birth grew up to be our lazy-eyed Tobias Guy Head.

Toby is pretty clueless about life in general.  This makes him blissfully happy most of the time, but also confused on a regular basis.

One thing he has never figured out:  his own body.

Before he got fixed, I think he tried to hump something once.  He has never been a dominant dog and has never understood why other dogs at the dog park regularly try to hump him.  He just stands around and looks confused when this happens.

Occasionally his body appears to be going through some sort of confused adolescence and he will start randomly humping.  Since he's asexual and doesn't know what to do, he will just walk around humping, acting confused and looking at Andy or I for help.  He'll sometimes try to sit or lay down, but will find himself unable to.  So he'll just be bewildered while he waits for his body to return to normal.

Andy and I find this amusing, and one morning Andy decided to record the event.

So for your viewing pleasure, here's a video of Toby stuck in a hump.

Happy Hump Day, friends and family.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Urban Adventure Racing

A couple of weeks ago, Andy and I took part in the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race.

And it was the most fun I've ever had at a race. 

I think that was due to the fact it wasn't like you're typical running race - where you're trying to beat a specific time goal or set a new PR.  Instead, we just had fun and left our competitive spirits behind.

Thirty minutes before the start, we were given our maps to plan our routes.  There was a running portion and a biking portion, but you couldn't mix the two.  We decided to run first and then bike and plotted our routes.

 Please note that the photos in this post are from Stellafly and Terry Johnston Photography and feature strangers, as I chose not to carry a camera during the race.  I've never carried my camera during a race because that would be a disaster.

At each checkpoint you hole punch your passport with a unique hole puncher.

Some of the checkpoints have challenges you can complete for an extra hole punch.  The goal is to get as many hole punches in the 4 hour time frame as possible.

Since this was our first race, we weren't sure what to expect or how to best attack the course.  We ended up getting all but one of the running checkpoints, but spent about 2 and a half hours running, a little over 7 miles.  After transitioning to the bike, we only had a little over an hour to bike and missed a lot of checkpoints.  Good thing we didn't care.

Since this was themed around Grand Rapids' annual Art Prize event, many of the challenges dealt with the art.  For one challenge, we were given a question and had to search for the answer in the artists' description of their work.

On another challenge, we were given a picture of an eye and had to find the art work that eye was located within.

The next challenge required us to count how many wooden monkeys were hanging right-side up on the blue bridge.

One messy challenge involved a sheet where our team number was written 3 times.  In "paint by number" style, we had to locate all of our numbers and paint in the squares.

Another challenge was tied to a charity, and we purchased art supplies for WMCAT and then made get well cards for the kids at the Helen Devos Children's Hospital.

One of the more difficult challenges was a grid puzzle.  Basically we were given a blank grid and had to fill in the scrambled grid pieces that were on a wall.  When put together, it made a map that led us to the checkpoint.

That's actually a photo of Andy and I and my coworker and her friend.  We worked together when possible, which is another fun aspect of the race.  Overall, everyone is helpful and gave other teams tips or pointed them in the right direction if they were turned around.

One of my favorite challenges featured a hollow wooden tower.

The hole puncher was at the bottom, and you and your partner could only have one finger in the tower at a time.  You had to work together to schooch the puncher up to the top and out so you could punch your passport.  I of course found a way to injure myself and hole punched my finger when trying to get it up the tower. 

Then came the most messy challenge.

There was a tube with many little holes in it.  We had to fill it to a fill line using a bucket, which also had a bunch of larger holes in it.  So I held onto the tube and tried to plug up the little holes while Andy ran back and forth to Reed's Lake to fill up the bucket and then pour the water into the tube.  It took maybe 5 or 6 bucket loads until we filled up, and I had received a significant shower by the end.

Around that time, we saw we only had a half hour or so left and decided to call it a day.  Did I mention that the race began and ended at our favorite brewery?  That may have influenced us in deciding to end our journey and go drink some beer. 

Others did a better job of reporting the race here, here and here.

The next race on the agenda is a Winter Adventure Race at the local ski hill, and Team You Booze, You Win will be signing up for that as soon as registration opens.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Mystery of G

When we first got Gordie, he was described as an "Australian Cattle dog and Labrador mix."

Then we saw him and thought, um, no.  He might have some lab in him, but I don't see any Aussie Cattle dog.

Gordie had a few traits that helped us figure out one of the breeds that made up his genetics. 

Physically speaking, he had a blue/black spotted tongue, a curly tail, lots of extra neck skin, somewhat stilted back legs, and tiny little triangle ears that look a few sizes too small for his noggin.  Personality-wise, he was very dominant, protective and territorial.  This led us to diagnose him as part . . .

Chow Chow.

It's somewhat difficult to see in G, because he obviously lacks the fluffy coat and was bred with a larger dog that gave him the bulk of his frame.  But all of the above listed traits are strongly associated to chows, and our vet concurred.  However, whatever he was mixed with left us stumped.  We'd heard lots of suggestions: Labrador, Golden Retriever, Visla, Rhodesian Ridgeback, etc.  But none of those seemed to fit quite right.

We knew whatever he was mixed with had to be a larger dog with a longer snout, longer legs and longer frame since Gordie's size is larger than a chow.  He also has a very large chest, especially when compared to his tiny waist.  I guess that makes him the Barbie of the dog world.  He's also a very speedy dog and can outrun pretty much any playmate at the dog park.

Not a great photo above but I think it helps show his somewhat unusual frame.

Then this weekend I was watching Dogs 101 on Animal Planet.  They focused on one particular breed, and I saw Gordie immediately.  This breed had all those missing G pieces.  The longer snout, legs and larger frame.  The large chest.  Speed.  We believe the other breed that gives Gordie a good portion of his DNA is . . . .

A Greyhound.

While we can't be sure without a DNA test, I feel fairly confident in saying that Gordie is a Chow Chow/Greyhound mix.  Truthfully he may have a bunch of different breeds in him, since he is a mutt of unknown origin.  But for now I'm calling it case closed on the Mystery of G.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

End of the Road

We arose on the fifth day eager to return to the world of showers, beer and fresh food. 

Holly Lake had treated us well, but we ready to get the heck out of the woods.  We took some pictures, ate some breakfast and immediately began heading down the trail. 


Thanks for the memories, Holly Lake.

Smell ya later.

A reminder of what our last day had in store for us:

 See how I'm not too clear where the van is in the above photo? That would come back to haunt us later.

There was many a muddy stream crossing on our way down the mountain.  Thankfully for this clumsy twosome, the steam crossings were well tended to and I would have had to work to fall in the river.


 Finally, we reached String Lake.

We then began to look for our van at the String Lake trail head.  You see, we had paid someone to pick up our van from where we started at Granite Canyon Trail head and drive it to String Lake.  It might sound a bit strange or trustworthy of us, but it's a common practice and the Ranger Station actually recommended it.  So, I practically ran to the parking lot to find that beautiful blue beast we had rented.  We walked up and down the aisles.

And our van was nowhere in sight.

I almost started to cry.  Andy then couldn't remember if he had said String Lake of Jenny Lake.  He also wasn't sure if there were more than one parking lot in the area.  We spied another parking lot in the distance so we walked there and walked up and down the aisles.

You guessed it.  No van.

So we continue to walk along the lake for what seemed like a million years.  In reality, it was probably 15 minutes but my brain was tired and weary and couldn't process the passage of time correctly.  We finally arrived at another parking lot and this happened.

We hopped in and started heading toward the laundry and convenience store located aways down the road.  I stepped out to take one photo of what we'd conquered in the past few days.

We arrived at the laundromat, threw our disgusting clothing in, and bought lunch at the store.

Beer, fruit and cheese: the three food groups.  It may seem weird to buy fruit, but trust me, after eating rabbit food for 6 days, fresh fruit is amazing.

Once the laundry was done we took off for Yellowstone and stopped for one last Grand Teton photo.

I am holding Andy in the above photo but Andy seems less interested in making physical contact with me.  I mean, I realize I smell like a foot but just pretend you like me for the photo, honey. 

Thus ended our trip hiking the Teton Crest Trail.  It certainly had it's highs and it's lows, but overall was one of our best hiking trips.