Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wasatch Back/Ragnar

There is this crazy race called the Wasatch Back where you put a 12 man/woman team together to run a 188 mile relay race from Logan to Park City, Utah. Everyone that's ever participated has told me it's the funnest race they've ever done.

Well . . . about 6 months ago a friend of mine asked me to be on her Wasatch team. There was only one catch; she was forming an Ultra Team, a 6 man team instead of a 12man team. I did the math. This meant that we would each have to run twice as far as people doing the regular relay -- it ended up being about 31 miles a piece. It sounded crazy, but I agreed to do it. I just kind of hoped that race day would never arrive!

But, it did! Friday morning at 8:40 a.m. was our team's start time. Our name: "The Lazy Marys". I was the first runner. I felt great. At about Mile #2 the guy in front of me turned left. I followed him. About 1/2 mile into the left hand turn, I realized that no one else was following us. We'd gone the wrong way! I backtracked and sped up, trying to catch back up to the pack. The guy that had led me astray did not backtrack. He just popped back out on the main road -- ahead of me again. I was a little miffed!

After finishing my first leg of the race (11.5 miles), I started to feel a bit nauseous. I made about 3 trips to the porta potties. As I sat in the car watching the other girls on my team run, I felt sicker and sicker. I couldn't eat and couldn't drink. Everyone kept saying, "Vanessa, you have to get something in you so you can run again." I just couldn't do it! Even water sounded and tasted disgusting.

The girls on my team were amazing. One had a stress fracture in her leg and still ran all of her miles. Another ran a 17 mile leg in the middle of the night! It is shocking what our bodies will do.

I used the porta potties about 20 times during the 32 hours of our race. My sore bum kept my mind off of my sore legs!! I completed all of my miles though my pace slowed down quite a bit from my ambitious beginnings.

The most memorable part of the race was Ragnar Hill. It is a 7.5 mile run up the steepest mountain I've ever seen. Donna, who had already completed a 17 miler during the night, was supposed to run it, but got wildly sick to her stomach. She insisted on completing the hill, so Marisa and I got out to climb it with her and try to keep her mind off the pain. Of course, the heavens opened on our way up the mountain. The rains came tumbling down. We were drenched, exhausted, shivering, and sloshing through the mud. When we made it to the top, our whole team huddled together hugging and crying. It was a huge bonding moment.

It's funny, but this race was kind of like delivering a baby -- it was awfully painful at moments, but totally worth it in the end!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm an Original!

I found out from this website that I am the only person in the United States with my name. What does that say about me?

Enter your info. to found out how popular your name is!
LogoThere is
person with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Zucchini Caper

We were gone for 2 weeks and when we returned our yard and "garden" looked better than ever. Somehow, my Super Dad managed to green up our lawn, cut it the perfect length, trim our bushes, and keep our dog, Biscuit, alive and happy.

Most surprising of all though (and I must say, rather suspicious) was the fact that we didn't have a single blossom on our zucchini plants when we left town, but when we returned there were 3 FULL GROWN zucchinis sitting in the pots. Why were they not attached to any vines? How had these beautiful zucchinis grown so quickly? Why was there not a single other blossom or sign of a mini zucchini in sight? My Encyclopedia Brown sensors were out. How could we solve this mystery?

We Pee'd in Her Dirt!

On our way back from our fantabulous vacation in California we had to stop for an emergency bathroom break. We were about 20 miles away from Barstow when Carson started yelling, "I have to pee! I can't wait!" He was squirming around like crazy so I knew he was serious.

Aaron insisted that there wasn't enough room to pull over to the side of the road. The U Haul trailor attached to our car did not make it easy for us to pull off anywhere. There was absolutely nothing around us. We were miles away from civilization. Suddenly, I saw a little store about 20 yards ahead on our left. The store was very small and set quite a ways back from the road. It was surrounded by dirt and cactus. As we got closer we saw a sign on the door that read, "No Public Restrooms!" Of course! Just our luck.

I told Aaron to pull a ways off to the side of the store. We were about 50 yards away from the store. He positioned the U Haul so the kids could stand behind it and not be seen from the road. The boys both hopped out to pee. Nyah laughed as she saw the mud they created trickling towards the car. Everyone was in a great mood laughing at the comedians relieving themselves. The boys hopped back in the car, in much better spirits, when Aaron suddenly pulled the car forward towards the road before they were buckled. "Aaron, what are you doing? The boys aren't even sitting down!"

"There's a woman coming!" I looked in my side mirror and saw an angry woman stomping towards our car. I frantically looked both ways on the road. The traffic had picked up and we couldn't escape.

Out of my peripheral vision, I saw the angry woman about 2 inches from me, staring through my window. I slowly rolled down my window. "Yes, Ma'am?"

"Who do you think you are, letting your boys urinate on my property?"

"Oh, ma'am, I am SOOOO sorry. It was an emergency, they couldn't hold it, and we had to stop off by the side of the road." (By the way, I'm not sure why I kept saying ma'am!)

"Well, SHAME, SHAME on you for teaching your children to behave that way."

"Oh, I am SOOO sorry. We just didn't have anywhere else to stop."

"Well, you should've stopped SOMEWHERE ELSE! SHAME ON YOU!!"

Just then, Aaron saw a break in the traffic and peeled away, leaving the angry woman in the dust.

We spent the next 1/2 hour making up a song about our experience. Here it is!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Old Town San Diego - Friday (need I say it) in San Diego

We decided to go visit the Whaley House today in Old San Diego. It claims to be one of the most visibly haunted houses in the United States. The kids got a little creeped out as the ladies there talked about the sightings of a small, yipping dog Spirit, a man named Old Jim that had been hung on the property, and of the many orbs with flashing lights that had been felt and seen in the theater room. I must admit that I felt a little creeped out when the lady pointed to our corner of the theater room and said, "No one usually chooses to sit in that corner of the room. People claim to feel darkness over there. It is probably one of the entryways to a portal in time." We soon exited our corner and left the building!!

We walked around Old Town San Diego for hours being badgered by salespeople to buy their wares. The kids loved it! Aaron hated it!

We ended up at The Coyote Cafe where we had the best Mexican food I have ever eaten! The homemade tortillas were to die for! I think I'd drive back to San Diego just to eat there again. Only a 10 hour one way drive for the best food in the world. Who wouldn't do that?! On second thought, maybe I'll just refuse to leave!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This was the best day of my life! Thursday in San Diego

"Here, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!"

On Tuesday, Aaron took Ian and Nyah fishing for the afternoon on the pier outside our condo. They couldn't stop talking about how much fun they had, even though they didn't even get a nibble. The highlight of their fishing trip was the fish tacos they ate from The Tin Fish (a restaurant located at the end of the pier). They couldn't wait to go "fishing" again (I think they thought they'd get to buy fish tacos everytime they fished!).

Aaron met an old man on the pier that day who was pulling in fish after fish. The guy's secret was his hand tied lines that had about ten hooks running along each one. Aaron bought one of his lucky lines for the bargain price of $4. He knew that line was going to help them catch some fish the next time.

Well, today was the big day -- the kids' 2nd fishing trip -- and this time, they were prepared with the lucky line.

Aaron took Ian, Nyah, and Carson along for the adventure (Carson didn't want to be left out of a fish taco lunch!). It took them about a 1/2 hour to get to the end of the pier with all the fishing gear and get set up. Finally, it was time to cast the lucky line. Ian cast it out and felt a tug instantly. This line was going to be worth that $4. Ian kept reeling and reeling. It was stuck. Aaron helped Ian give the line a sharp tug. As it turned out, the line was stuck on the legs of the pier, there was no fish, and they lost their lucky line. I can only imagine how irritated Aaron must've been. He had to pack the 3 kids and all the fishing gear back up, walk to a tackle store, buy more line and hooks, and head back to the end of the pier to set everything back up! It took over an hour. I am so glad I wasn't along for this one!

"The unlucky caster"

This time, Aaron helped the kids cast it out, and over the next couple of hours, they caught 2 fish!! Nyah's excited screams of, "Look a fish, a fish, we got a fish!" caused much amusement among the locals who were fishing along beside the kids. And of course, as an added bonus, the kids all enjoyed some fish tacos for lunch!

When they met Cali and I back at home (we had enjoyed a relaxing day of shopping in Coronado), the first thing Ian said was, "This was the BEST day of my entire life! We caught 2 fish and I ate TWO FISH TACOS AND FRENCH FRIES!!" It doesn't take much does it?!

Balboa Science Museum - Wednesday in San Diego

Today we did a lot of lounging. We decided that most people wouldn't like to accompany us on a vacation, as we sometimes don't leave the condo until noon. After lots of resting and eating in the morning, we headed up north to the kids' museum.

On our way in, we saw a nice man with a guitar and a money bucket pushing a wheelchair up the hill. As soon as he reached the top of the hill(he wasn't even breathing hard), he hopped into the wheelchair and SLOWLY wheeled himself into the park (looking very disabled at this point) to set up his money making station inside. I've heard of people who make their living begging for money, but this is the first time I've actually seen a person pretending to have a major disability. The kids couldn't take their eyes off the scoundrel!

Inside the museum, we enjoyed hours of block building, experiments, a Dome IMAX movie called "Under the Sea," and a science craft that taught the kids how to use a battery and copper wire to light up the eyeballs of their homemade bug. Ian got very frustrated with his mosquito, said, "I'm not an artist!" and stomped off towards the end of the activity. Nyah happily made a cute ladybug, Cali patiently made a spider, and Carson made a monster beetle with Aaron's help. Great times were had by all!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Coronado Beach Day - Tuesday in San Diego

We looked at the weather forecast this morning. "It will be 65 and overcast the rest of the week!" We were more than a little saddened by the news. Where were the tanning rays we'd dreamed of?

We decided to take a chance and go to the beach and fight the bitter chill. When we got there the sun popped out!

We were lucky enough to catch some members of the Navy out for a morning jog! They were going so slow they weren't even working up a sweat. I think it was just a show for the ladies!

We got a lesson on sandcastle making from a guy named Mike. Unfortunately . . .

My sandcastle didn't turn out quite so pretty!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Morning at the Birch Aquarium/La Jolla Caves - Monday in San Diego continued . . .

The kids saved their money for months so they could pay to go to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. It is supposed to be an amazing aquarium. When we arrive they were jumping out of their skin in anticipation of the tanks full of exotic fish. We walked around for about 40 minutes, enjoying the seahorses, mini sharks, Dora fish, etc . . . Then suddenly, we realized we had reached the end of the aquarium. These were the kids' reactions:

Ian:: "It was really cool, but way too small."
Carson: "I don't know. It was really fun, but there really wasn't anything to do."
Cali: "Not worth the money."
Nyah: "What aquarium?"

The kids were disappointed that there weren't any real sharks this size!
In keeping with the "fishy" theme, Ian packed tuna fish for lunch!

Next on the agenda was a stop at the La Jolla Cave. It is located underneath a shop. You go in and buy souvenirs and then pay the owner to walk down hundreds of stairs to the cave underneath. I think when we get home, I may have the kids start digging a pit in our yard and then charge neighborhood children admission. What a great business idea!

Monday, June 1, 2009

La Jolla - Monday in San Diego

We went to La Jolla today -- the Jewel of San Diego. We saw caves, beautiful sandy beaches and lots and lots of seals. It was 68 degrees today, an improvement over yesterday, but still not much sun. I am still pasty white, and don't see that changing anytime soon. The kids favorite part of the day was finding some really interesting trees to climb. Did we really have to drive all the way to California to climb trees?

Carson's Rough Day! . . . Sunday in San Diego

The day started out with Carson getting stung by a bee on his hand. Nyah made him a plateful of baking soda paste (way more than was necessary for 1 bee sting!). After he recovered, we headed down to the beach to search for crabs.

After getting to the rocks where the crabs live, we found out . . . Carson hates crabs! He started screaming bloody murder everytime he'd see one. "I hate those! They are going to bite me. I want to go home right now!"

I wandered around the beach with Carson while the rest of the family went crab huntin'. Aaron made me feel a part of things later when he let me hold his crab!

We met a man on the beach that has lived in Imperial Beach his whole life. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get to know a little bit about the town.

"Where are the best places to eat?" I asked.

"I don't know. I'm from here. I eat at home," my new friend David replied.

A long, rather uncomfortable silence ensued. We both stared at the waves.

"So, where are the best places to go jogging?" I asked, secretly wondering if there were any SAFE places to jog.

"I don't know. I don't jog."

Another uncomfortable silence.

"Wow. It sure has been cold yesterday and today. We came here from Utah. It's in the 80s and 90s there. We can't believe it's only 65 degrees here in Sunny San Diego."

"It's called June Gloom. It happens every year."

Well, I obviously picked the wrong guy to talk to. I didn't get a picture of David, but Aaron did take a picture of his dog!

The kids had a blast on the beach. They had sand in every nook and cranny.

After we cleaned up all the sand, we headed to Balboa Park to check out some free entertainment. We stopped at some porta-potties on our way into the park. When Carson exited his potty, the heavy plastic blue door shut on his ankle, causing lots of blood and even more screaming. Remember, he had already been stung by a bee and scared to death by the crabs. Luckily, I had a small first aid kit in my purse. The band-aid seemed to stop the blood and the screaming.

Balboa Park is one of the coolest places I have ever been. Acres of land covered with museums, grassy nooks and gorgeous flowers. One of the first things we saw was a street performing group called the Steam Powered Giraffe. Look them up on the Internet. Very cool!!!
We next went to the park to listen to an outdoor concert on the largest outdoor organ in the world. The first 5 songs were amazing, but when the kids found out there were 9 more songs, we decided to make a quick exit.

We did some more sightseeing and then ended up at the Botanical Gardens, another free Sunday hotspot!
The big finale in our time spent at Balboa was playtime at one of the local parks. There was a yellow mushroom shaped chair that you could sit in while someone spins you around. Carson hit his breaking point while being spun. More screaming, threats of throwing up, and more, "I want to go homes!" The other kids stood around the mushroom laughing hysterically at his screams. Poor kid. Hopefully he'll make it through the week!

Our Arrival in Imperial Beach -Saturday, May 30th

Aaron and I were so excited to find a great price on a condo in Imperial Beach for our vacation to San Diego. We couldn't believe how lucky we were to find a place right on the beach front. As we drove through San Diego, and kept driving South, I started to wonder about our "great deal."

When we pulled into Imperial Beach, CA, my first thought was, "Uh, oh. We're in the hood!" It looked pretty rundown and my cellphone lost connectivity and started roaming. Not a good sign.

Aaron was a little annoyed with me as I muttered things like, "Uh, oh, kids. Look. Those people are doing drugs." "Kids, now don't talk to that man with the scary looking beard and dog." "Carson, I am going to buy you a dog leash so that you can't leave my side while we are here."

When we pulled up to our condominium, however, I was much relieved. It looked newer and had a locked and covered garage where the bearded man with the dog couldn't enter.

It took us a couple of hours to unload the UHaul we rented to carry our week's worth of food, bikes, toys, and suitcases, and then we headed into town to explore. We were back to the condo within an hour as it was getting dark and we felt a little bit safer inside!!

We saw some really cool replicas of actual surfboards on Palm St. before we headed back to the condo!

The kids' bedroom!

This is a gorgeous view of our condo to the left and the Mexican border that can be seen directly south. It is only a 5 mile jog from us! Fish tacos, here I come!!

Night in Mesquite, Nevada