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As promised I am posting part two of the Halloween disaster at Disneyland  from a couple of weeks ago.   So let me jump right on in!   As you all know I have a two and half-year old and a fourteen month old.  That pretty much limits the “appropriate rides” for the family.  Since it was pouring out, I was a drowned rat, and I refused to purchase a poncho, we were very limited.  We found ourselves in the area that had the fairytale character rides, like Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White, Dumbo, the Merry-go-Round etc.  That seemed harmless right?

PD1 loves all of those characters, yet I really have not let her watch any of the movies ( that should have been my first red flag). We thought we were the cat’s pajamas of parents sticking close to such “appropriate rides”  We get in line for Snow White and I may  have been on it before, but I did not remember it.  There was nothing indicating that this could be the possible worse idea that this should be considered an “appropriate ride”. . . well that is if I would have looked around and saw that there were no other kids in line under the age of ten! 

We load up in the car and off we go.  It starts out a little spooky, but nothing that would alarm PD1, then the ride takes a turn for the worst and the witch pops out at you around a corner and it all goes down hill from there.  I thought she was going to claw the hubs to death trying to get inside his rain jacket and she just kept saying, “Scary Snow White!”  The ride was finally over and she was in tears and needed to be talked down off the ledge.  We think another ride that will distract her, so we head to Peter Pan!

Now this ride was not as bad as Snow White, but seriously, PD1 was not convinced. She was just waiting in terror for that crummy witch to pop out at her again.  There was more tears and talking off ledges.

We finally decided that this whole fairytale land is for the birds so we decide to go to Pirates of the Caribbean.  We are convinced that she will love the music and the dancing pirates.  OK, I know by now each one of you reading this is screaming at me, “You are the stupidest parent on the face of the earth!”  Yes, I will own our stupidity.  One quarter the way through Pirate’s I looked over at the hubs who was holding our child’s head in his chest as she is not just crying, but sobbing, and saying over and over, “I want to go home mommy, I want to go home daddy”.  That is when I said to him, “Just so you know, we suck as parents!”  He nodded in full agreement.  We both just held our breath begging for the ride to get over so our little one will only have a week of night terrors not a life time. 

On our way back to Dumbo, a total safe option, we had to work our way by the Haunted House, due to the friggin’ trick or treat lines from hell.  Of course we would!  Why not have to walk right by the scariest part of the park after we just scared the piss out of our child and probably permanently scared her for the rest of her life.  That was another talk off the ledge moment. 

Finally we got to Dumbo and the Merry-go-Round and my thought was to ride those puppies as many times as we could. I was trying to do a “Superman” of reversing the past’s damage.  No, that did not work, that only worked for Superman.   We now have to have a night-light, the star turtle and the door open.  This was a child that could sleep in a cave before this little adventure to the Happiest Place on Earth.  Like I said before, we sucked as parents that day. The only “Happiest Place on Earth”establishment I am going to venture into for a while is Costco!

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It was a dark and stormy afternoon, this past Tuesday, as we headed out to the “Happiest Place on Earth”  for their special Halloween celebration.   When I woke up Tuesday morning it was raining, not just raining, but pouring!  The kind of pouring that Texans call, ” a cow pissin’ on a flat rock” pouring.   I live in Southern California, the only worry we have in October are wildfires, not rain, thunder, lightning and hail. 

With the weather the way it was and the forecast showing it only gettng worse,  I called Disney to see if we could get a rain check since I had purchased these tickets for the family in advance for this particular day.  They nearly laughed me off the phone and pretty much told me that I could buy a poncho from one of the many gift shops and to pretty much suck it up.  So we packed up the kids and headed to the Happiest Place on Earth. 

When we got there, we loaded the kids up in the double stroller and put their rain coats on.  We headed out of the parking structure, which is conveniently located about a mile from the park entrance.  You can take a tram from the parking structure, but that would mean we would have to break down the stroller and all its contents (I tend to over pack when on outings so my stroller usually looks like a yak or sherpa heading to base camp of Everest).   It was only a light drizzle so we decided to “go for it”.   About three minutes into the walk, the heavens open up and we get soaked. It is raining cats and dogs!  I have PD1 holding a unbrella and trying to referee her from stabbing her sister in the eye with the umbrella spokes that is sitting behind her.   While trying to do that, I am not paying attention to where I am going and walk through puddles that could support a school of fish. 

We finally get to the gates, I am soaked, the hubs is soaked, but the kids are fairly comfortable and dry.  As we enter through the security portion of the entrance the Disney staff, must have taken pity on my “drowned rat cat” appearance and did not force the issue.

As we head in there are a million people there!  How could this be? It is pouring! Are there this many people as cheap and dumb as me to insisting on going to Disneyland in the rain?  Everyone is wearing those infamous ponchos that the customer service rep told me about.  I refused to not get one out of principal, which the only person it hurt was me, my rain jacket lost it luster of holding back the rain about an hour into the adventure.

While navigating through the park and you combine strollers, rain, people in ponchos and people texting, you are in the making of a huge disaster of pending foot, leg, hip, arm, back , neck and most of all butt injuries. The butt injuries are the most common because when someone is stupid enough to be pushing a stroller in the rain, while wearing a poncho that they can’t see in, and trying to text or twitter about how much fun they are NOT having at Disneyland, and they run over you, well lets just say the phone finds a new home.

Finally it is time for some rides!  We unload the kids and head to Dumbo!  The line is pleasantly short and we head into the loading section.  As I am stepping into the pink elephant, I am welcomed with an ice cold drench to the feet.  The friggin’ bottom of the ride if full of water!  Oh great! Just great!  Well, that explains why that ride had a short line.  Shortly after my feet get drenched, they rid the water from each bottom.

After Dumbo we take refuge in the Merrry-Go- Round until the rain lets up.   It is now dark and we head to Small World to only find that it is closed.  Drat! However, there is a long line and at Disneyland long lines usually means something fun and exciting.  I ask a random middle-aged guy standing in line with his family what the line was for, he said, “Candy!”  Candy?  I was puzzled.  I know that during this event Disneyland has stations set up for the kids to go and grab a handful of candy from, but this line was something deserving of meeting Mr. Wonka himself.I pressed the guy a bit further to the details of the “candy” and he said, “It is just candy!”  I could not help but laugh out loud and say, “Seriously, you are waiting in an hour long line, in the rain, for plain Hershey bars?”  He said, “Yes, it is all about the experience, plus they give you a lot of candy for the wait!”  I replied back in my soaken, sassy tone, ” Well, if it is a lot of candy you are looking for,  that is what Costco is for!” He was not amused. 

I kept looking back at the line and it just kept getting longer and longer.  The hubs kept saying that we may be missing something so I again asked a staff member and they verified it was just the candy line.  Those people were insane! They had small children, standing in the rain getting soaked for a few measly candy bars!  The hubs and I both agreed that we would rather have hemroid surgery than be that stupid. 

The evening was full of misfits and odd ordeals.  We managed to NOT stay dry, but we kept our humor and mockery of all the idiots we saw.  We must have rode the Merry-Go-Round and Dumbo a million times and we did manage to traumatized PD1 on two of the rides, which I will address in part two of this series. 

The moral of this story is don’t go to Disneyland ever while it is raining, even if you already have paid for your tickets in advance. You will only be surrounded by stupid, wet and insane people. The smart, dry and sane people stayed home and watched Toy Story and ate candy from Costco.

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The hubs brother and wife are trying to set up another outdoor adventure for this summer with us.  In discussion with the hubs about possible dates, he pulled up this post and told me to re-read this to remind myself what we are going to get ourselves into.  Apparently, they have upped the ante and this adventure will involve kayaks.  Great now they are going to try to do me in by telling me it is a “calm and relaxing lake” just around the bend and I will be in a class 4 rapid heading straight for a 80-foot waterfall!

  

Day Three of “Four Days of Outdoor Adventure Fodder” Continued . . .    

Like I mentioned before, I went on a 57-mile backpacking trip with the hub’s brother and his wife about 3 or so years ago.   It was a trip that came equipped with many adventures, some down right scary and unpredictable, some created by the environment, and some self-induced.    

A Snake:  We had just started out on the backpacking journey. I had my 37-pound pack strapped to my back, my hiking sticks, and my IPOD charged and jamming as I led the crew, trail blazing, like I was Lewis and Clark.  We were at about the four mile mark into the trip, I had U2’s, “Desire”, blaring on one ear and completely in a zone scrambling over the elevated rocky terrain.  As I was stepping up and around one larger rock I heard a rattle and then felt and heard the strike.  That all happened in about .2 seconds.  I freaked, OK I not only freaked, I was hysterical. First off , I hate snakes and have  a tremendous phobia of snakes of any kind.  I can’t even handle seeing them on TV.  Secondly, I hate snakes and wished they were all extinct – end of story.     

    

So here I am flailing and screaming at the top of my lungs, “I got struck, I got struck!”  I then lost my balance and fell backwards smack into the hubs.  He catches me somewhat, organizes me about six feet away from the “attack site” and begins to question me.  I am ripping off my left shoe terrified and now just half hysterical! My mind was racing on how the heck am I going to get out of here and why the heck am I not feeling any pain. “It must be shock!”, I thought.  The brother-in-law was rummaging through his pack for the snake kit and the sister-in-law looked like she just saw a ghost.     

I finally got my shoe and sock off and to my surprise the reason I was not feeling any pain was because that damn snake struck me on the thick leather portion of my hiking shoe!  It only grazed my skin, never puncturing it.  You could see where the fangs grazed the skin.  Everyone all breathed again and I kept rubbing my eyes out of disbelief I was so lucky.   The guys went over to investigate the scene. Sure enough there was a 6-foot rattlesnake hiding under the rock he was originally sunbathing on when I surprised him.    

After I gathered up my wits again, I had to press onto the journey. I knew that in just a few short miles I would be at elevation and I would not see a snake for days. That was motivation enough for me to keep from throwing in the towel and head to the closest Marriott.  The hardest part at that moment was I was going to have to walk past the snake hiding under the rock.  I never hustled so fast in my life.     

To this day I am more jumpy than I ever have been when it comes to trail running and hiking.  I actually drive the hubs crazy with my new and improved snake phobia, but he does swear that I must be  part cat since I used up one of my nine lives that backpacking trip.      

Four Letter Pass and a Near Broken Neck: On a side note, I need to preference that when you decide to go on a 57-mile backpacking trip with huge elevation changes, gear is a factor one must always consider.  Now anyone that truly knows me, knows that I am very generous with others, but cheap when it comes to myself.  The hubs tried to convince me to buy a new backpack for this trip, but the sister-in-law said I could use one of their old ones.  She did let me know it was and external frame that was probably 20-25 years old.  Being cheap, not wanting to spend the $300.00 for comfort and taking the risk for future writing material, I opted for the “vintage” free one.  Two words: BAD MISTAKE!   

The "vintage" pack I tortured myself with.

The pack I should of thrown down the dough for!

We were on day four of our journey and we were now in the thick of elevation.    None the less this day started early and I knew that I had my work cut out for me with the climb of Glenn Pass.  At its highest point it is around 12, 000 feet.  Climbing anything above 10,000 feet can be challenging, but then add a large pack and you are essentially screwed.   As we started the climb I went to my place I go when I have to push my body to its brink.  It is a true savior at about the 18-mile marker of a marathon,  the transition from the bike to the run during a triathlon and when you are schlepping up a mountain side with very little oxygen and carrying a yak on your back.  The ascent had its challenges, but easier than I expected. It was now time for the fun part, the descent! So I thought . . .      

The brother-in-law said that the lakes we could see as we were going down was the area we were camping for two nights.  All we have to do is just get down to the bottom and it was set up camp, eat, fly fish and relax in God’s country for two days!  I was like a horse to the stable, I was off and running!  After about two hours of heading down the switchbacks of Glen Pass, I realized that the lakes were still as far away as they were 2 hours ago.  My legs were now jelly and my gusto was fading.  I kept telling the hubs, “Are we there yet?”  Another hour goes by and still we are not getting any closer.  We never stopped to rest, we just kept pressing on. The “mirage” of the destination was still completely out of reach.  My knees were now swelling from the hours of impact of hiking down the step trail, my head was pouring and my spirit was now not only broken, but I was pissed off!       

  

Just about that time we hit level ground and were at the lake!  I thought, “Thank God! We are finally here!”  Nope, we now had to walk another mile  around this God forsaken lake and then over a fallen log and down another trail to reach the friggin’ campsites.   I thought I was going to kill someone, if I had the strength.  Each step was like I was negotiating for another.   I think I may have hallucinated a helicopter and maybe a burro coming to my rescue on a few occasions.   It was the longest day of my life and I felt it would never end.     

  

 Like  child-birth, kidney stones, gall stones and broken femurs, they do have their moments of uncontrollable behavior and bad coping skills.  We  just seen the sign for the camp and the brother-in-law, who left us in the dust when my knees started acting up, was standing there in a clearing. I was so thankful and almost giddy that it was over.  I was already starting to unfasten my “cheap-A” backpack when he said that the camp was still about 1/4 of mile up the trail and he just came to show us where it was.   I lost it!  I flung that thirty something pound “cheap -A” backpack off my body and like the Incredible Hulk, held it over my head and threw it with all the remaining strength I had.  The brother-in-law looked at me as if I was Linda Blair from the ” The Exorcist” and the hubs tried to hold in the laughter since he never saw me crack like that.  

It's not a backpack, but you get the idea!

Once I threw the pack, I knew something was not right.   I could not lift my head. My neck froze!  I could not move my head up or down nor left to right.  It was like I was paralyzed.  It was the result of looking down for hours with the aluminum bar of the backpack pressing down on the back of my neck (having a physical and emotional meltdown probably did not do it any favors  as well).  I was scared to death that I was seriously injured.  The hubs and the brother- in-law jumped into action and led me to the camp.  We were now 20 plus miles in and the only way out was by helicopter or burro.  The pain was so intense I loaded up with Advil and fully clothed jumped into the frigid alpine lake hoping that would cool my muscles down and unlock my neck.  It worked!     

 
 
 

 

Actual shot of Glen Pass (a.k.a. Four Letter Pass)

The next morning while drinking coffee, feeling the stiffness and painful effects of the previous day, and gazing at Glen Pass I realized that I must have dropped the “F-bomb” a million times while hiking down its endless switchbacks.  At that moment I renamed it “Four Letter Pass”.   It was a unanimous vote for all that were present for that profanity filled adventure.    

(161. . . should have never had the half of the ice cream sandwich with the hubs)    

   

   

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The Fourth and Final Day of “Four Days of  Outdoor Adventure Fodder” continued. . .

This is a little ditty, dedicated to the brother-in-law.  I made up to pass the time during the Ray Lakes adventure.  It is set to the tune of “Twelve Days of Christmas”.

On the first day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, a “vintage” backpack from the pit of Hell.

On the second day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, two snake kits.

On the third day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, three rapid river crossings.

On the fourth day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, four stormy nights.

On the fifth day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, five bugs of giardia!

On the sixth day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, six snakes are striking!

On the seventh day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, seven sleepless night!

On the eighth day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, eight days of sunburn.

On the ninth day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, nine blisters bleeding!

On the tenth day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, ten more miles to go!

On the eleventh day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me eleven, itchy bug bites!

On the twelfth day of backpacking the brother-in-law gave to me, twelve thousand foot drop-offs!

(162! Huh?  I am blaming the heat and water retention! )

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Day Two of Four Days of Outdoor Fodder Continued . . .

 

A few summers ago, my hub’s brother and wife invited us on a 57-mile backpacking trip in King’s Canyon, California.  We were going to do the Ray Lakes Loop which consisted of nearly seven days of . . . hell.  I decided that is how they tried to initiate me into the family.  They wanted to see if I had what it takes to make it in this family by taking me out into the wilderness and exposing every nerve and emotion I may have and if I was truly the girl scout and outdoor girl I claimed to be.  Most of the time I rose to occasion and even surprised myself.  Yes, there were some not so shining moments, but seriously, digging a hole for your poo, is never a shining moment and I coined that whole business, “the archaeological dig”.   There was another not so fortunate situation for me that is still discussed today by all that were present, mostly the hubs.

In preparation of this trip my sister-in-law and I worked on the menu of meals. I was responsible for two dinners and she was responsible for three, we were on our own for breakfast and lunch.   They were in their second or third year  of backpacking and I had been backpacking most of my teen and adult life.  I remember thinking after the fourth phone call on just the subject of  meals during backpacking, “this is not my first rodeo, so I got this in the bag.” 

Me, being a minimalist by the influence of a father that taught survival training to USAF Academy Cadets, I thought my extra effort of tossing a small bottles of wine, champagne, gourmet cheese, salami and some social crackers I found at World Market Cost Plus would just blow them away.   I even found some pre-made polenta and chipped beef that you could throw into a skillet on the camp stove add a little parmesan and wallah, a bit of the mediterranean at 10,000 feet!  I was cocky as a peacock as I was cramming all these different ingredients I found at Trader Joe’s and World Market Cost Plus into my bear box. 

The first night was their turn for dinner.  We got a mid-afternoon start so I had no idea how they rolled in the food department, since we never stopped for lunch.  After setting up camp I went to help prepare dinner.  It was like she was Mary Friggin’ Poppins when she pulled out her bear box.  All these ingredients came out of no where and all I could hear was Alton Brown, from Iron Chef America, narrating what I was seeing happening before my eyes.  She was making chicken curry over rice and not from one of the dreadful freeze-dried packages of Mountain House that backpacker’s use!   She is going to spank me in the meal department – I am very competitive by nature, so my head was spinning.  I calmed down a bit with the thought I am not a big fan of curry nor is the hubs, so she may not have this in the bag. 

Oh no! It was unbelievably good! The best curry I ever had to this day and then she followed it up with an instant pudding dessert that was delectable and a perfect finish to a great meal!   That night while trying to get to sleep, I shared with the hubs my concern that I have just been schooled in the Iron Chef Outdoors aspect of this trip and  hope my polenta dish will save face.  My hubs knowing his brother, clued me in that his brother researches things for months, tests them out and does everything with amazing perfection.  He does not know the word failure and his wife normally follows suite.  

I could not sleep that night, I was dreading my meal.  I did not research a thing, I made up my whole menu in the dry good aisle of Trader Joe’s.  I finally had a plan!  I will open a bottle of wine and serve that first, alcohol mixed with altitude will be my edge!  A girl has got to do what a girl has got to do.  It was not like I could run down to the next tree bend and find a market, I was committed. 

The next day I was energized by my plan and by lunch I was back to the role of cocky again until . . . we stopped for lunch.  They pull out their bear box and again it was like Mary Friggin’ Poppins.  There was bagels, peanut butter, packages of tuna with mayo and relish,  good salami and provolone cheese (she vacuumed sealed herself) , this amazing trail mix it when on and on.  I open my bear box and it was now smushed warm Laughing Cow cheese, broken crackers and a pouch of tuna with bread that was so dense and hard it was like eating a brick of cardboard.  I could see my hubs looking at the lunch he was eating and then at their spread of envy.  I think I saw a tear running down his face.  I was beside myself, I was getting skunked in the foodie department in a bad way. 

That night my chipped beef over polenta was terrible! Can I say, “Got too much salt?”  I think everyone swelled up like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.  The only things that helped each person get that meal down was the vino and the fact we were starving.  As we were going to bed, my hubs said, “Oh, thank God it is their turn for dinner tomorrow!”  I rolled over and fell asleep swollen and defeated.  

The next morning I swallowed my pride and looked forward to their meals.  Oh were they good! They were the only good things we got to eat.  On the car ride home from the trip, my hubs told me that next time we do this with them, I need to take what I learned from my defeat and beat the pants off of them.  Trust me, the rematch of Iron Chef Outdoors will have a much better outcome!  I will reign!

(160)

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In the spirit of this being the last summer holiday weekend when many are packing up their cars, RVs, trailers, backpacks and coolers to set out for one last hurrah, I want to celebrate the close of yet another summer with some outdoor adventure fodder!  After each post, feel free to share with me any of your adventures or misfits with the great outdoors; amusement and misery always loves company!

________________________________________________________________________

Morning Yoga and a Bear

 

The hubs and I have a love for the great outdoors, while many go to beach resorts to reconnect, we rather reconnect sleeping on the cold hard ground, have no toilet facilities or very primitive ones, enjoy the taste of dirt with every bite during meals and push our bodies to the extreme level climbing mountains.  Of course this would bring anyone closer!  The feeling you are going to die any moment, regardless if you are sleeping in a tent or scaling a 18 inch ledge 3,000 feet up, would definitely wake anyone up to noticing your spouse.  These experiences just brings us closer and gives us a totally appreciation of clean sheets, the fizz of soda, warm showers and an evening with the boob tube!

On one of our very first adventures as a couple, we decided to hike to Half Dome in Yosemite and then climb it.  Since it makes for a very long day, most that do this camp out the night before and the night after.  We found a campsite about a 40 minute car ride to the trail head that was set back in a very remote area outside of the park.  If you have ever been to Yosemite you would understand that they have a bear problem, a seriously bad bear problem.   The camp host said that he had not seen a bear in this particular area in years, but that did not rule out the possibility of one wandering through the grounds at any given time. 

Around 4:45 am, I woke the hubs up telling him I had to go to the bathroom and would he come with me.  He could have been resembled as a bear with his grouchy response, ” I told you not to drink any water before bed, you are on your own!”  I tried to explain to him that I left my glasses at home and I can’t see, so I needed him to guide me to the outhouse – I am literally blind without my glasses or contacts.  He just mumbled something obnoxious and turned over.  I laid there for a while seeing if I could hold it and the stream running right next to our campsite was not helping that situation.

I finally grab the flash light and proceeded to head out into the darkness. As I was leaving the tent I head the him call out chuckling, “Watch out for bears!”  I just rolled my eyes and headed out into the darkness towards the direction of my relief. 

I was kidding myself, I could not see a thing even with the flash light .  Using the solar-powered light attached to the outhouse as a guide, I stumbled along the walkway.  I was just about 20 feet away from the bathroom when all of a sudden something appeared in the shadows from behind it.  It was tall, big, black and about 50 feet away from me.  I froze, shut off my flash light and reached my arms in the sky and stood as tall as I could.  I remembered that  is what you are supposed to do when you see a bear.  It kept coming towards me, my heart was nearly beating out of my chest, I was sweating profusely and sick to my stomach.  “This is it”, I was thinking “When it hits me, just play dead”.  The black image is now at the outhouse and it stops, turns to me and says, “Good Morning, aren’t the stars just amazing!”

I am still frozen in the “bear is going to eat me” pose and I numbly reply, “Yes, I love doing Yoga this time in the morning!”  He laughed and headed into the bathroom.  I then checked myself to see if the contents of my bladder let loose in my fright. Then the sudden feeling of total embarrassment flushed all over me.  What a friggin’ idiot I must have looked like!

To this day I wonder what that guy truly thought when he saw this terrified woman, eyes screwed shut, and stretching herself  out like she was Gumby at 5:00 in the morning.   After I told the hubs of my near miss adventure, he howled out of laughter and for the rest of the day he steered clear from me anytime we were near any type of sheer drop off.  Smart man!  (161)

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