Stuck in a tree


As Kris and Andy were walking down from their hike today, and I was waiting at the truck, Andy called to down to me, hey he had some discs, catch!

He threw them down, one at a time, with my almost catching a couple of them.

After gathering the four discs, I threw them back up to Andy one by one.

Except I didn't actually throw them TO Andy. My aim, strength and technique (or rather lack of each of those) sort of hindered the actual return process, with one of the discs ending up in Blue's mouth (which was fine) and another one ending up stuck in the top of a tree (not so fine).

I gathered up the remaining two discs, and was just about to start trying to figure out how to get the last one out of the tree, when Andy arrived from his previous advantage point on Crews Road.

He looked up at the disc in the tree, reached down, picked up a rock, and threw it at the disc. He missed.

Not a problem, though, as there were many rocks to throw. He reached down, picked up another rock, and threw it. And another. And another. And another. I waited for a few moments, then walked around the tree when he was looking for another rock to thrown. I picked up one the rocks Andy had thrown, hefted it up, and flung it at the disc.

I missed the disc by a foot, but caught the branch the disc was attached to, pulling it down, and popping the disc up and out on the return.

Andy stood up and looked up for the disc.

"Oh. You got it."

"Well, yes, so I did."

Probably the first, last, and only time luck is going to help me beat Andy in anything.

Trip to Lockwood


Andy, Kris and I went off to Andy's place in Lockwood today. Well, no, no, that's not quite correct. Andy, Blue, Shadow, Kris, Bella, Annie and I all dogpiled into Andy's truck and drove down to Lockwood today for an overnight campout at Andy's place. I think Andy mentioned that he hasn't camped at his place before, and has been wanting to do so for a long while now. Kris and I were up for the adventure, so over-packed for a night of camping (eh, it's not like we were going to be carrying the stuff), and headed off with the girls, the boys and Andy.

The two hour drive wasn't too bad. We zipped down, parked the truck at the bottom of the hill, grabbed some snacks and started up the hill. We didn't make it more than about 30 yards before I was grossed out.

Nothing like a dead deer leg to remind me that we're in nature. Like real nature.

Of course, the electrical wire connector right next to it puts a modern twist on the nature thing, eh?

So, off on our hike we go to the top of the hill. Andy's been meaning to go to the top of another hill, one or two over from his hill, for a while now, and wanted to conquer that hill today. After the two hour drive, the movement/hike/walk felt good.

As we were walking up to the top of the hill, Blue was chasing his disc, Shadow was trailing us, Annie was dashing off the road and back on, and Bella was doing her own thing. As we were summitting the hill, Bella caught a scent and turned away, to head down the hill following Annie who had just run down the hill herself.

As Bella turned to head off, I thought to myself, "Hey, maybe I should stop her." I didn't, because, hey, we're off in the wilderness camping, right? Except that Bella doesn't seem to listen to us when we go off in a specific direction. Annie stays with the pack: she'll run ahead, but always stop to and return to check in with the Alpha (aka Kris). Bella just puts her nose down and goes. We lose her for hours on end when we go to Water Dog Lake.

So, Bella turned right when we all wanted to go left. Andy commented, "Bella. Yeah, that one is going to cause problems."

Of course, he was right. None of us could find the dog after that. We walked up to the top of the hill. We walked half way back down the hill. We walked in the direction Bella went. We followed her path. We followed all of the dogs' paths. We couldn't find her.

After about a half an hour of not being able to find her, I offered that Andy and Kris should just go ahead and head up the mountain. We were losing daylight, with Andy not knowing how long the hike to the top of the other mountain they needed to get going.

"You sure?" both Andy and Kris asked. Yes, yes, sure. I mean, stay back and take macro pictures of rocks while looking for the dog?

Sign me up!

So, Kris, Andy, Annie, Blue and Shadow went off to the top of the hill, while I continued to look for the little dog. I started by walking down the hill she disappeared on. I walked down the hill, around the corner, back up the hill on the other side. I walked down the drive Andy had cut into the side of the hill, calling for the dog. I walked back up to the top of the hill, calling for the dog. I walked to the edge of various dropoffs and called and called and called. I walked through bushes where a little dog could go, but a woman probably shouldn't have gone. I eventually scrambled back down the hill to the truck, in case she decided to just head back to the starting point, which is what she had done when Bella had wandered off last time we were at Lockwood. She wasn't there.

I decided to walk down the road leading out of the property, still calling for the dog. I began having images of the dog actually being lost, unable to find our scents, and being alone at night, maybe eaten by a mountain lion or some other wild animal. Hearing a gunshot around 4 in the afternoon (4:09 to be exact) didn't exactly help me feel better about losing the dog, images of her thinking someone's chickens would be easy prey, and getting shot by a neighbor.

I started progressing through the seven stages of loss. I was well past the disbelieve and denial stages, and skipped straight through the bargaining phase since there really wasn't anyone to bargain with. The guilt phase was easy to zoom through, too, as I was the one who was thinking hey, maybe I shouldn't let her walk away right now. She's dead because I didn't stop her from turning to the right. Great.

So, completely in the anger phase of loss, I stomped down the dirt road to the main road, calling the stupid dog's name, and stomped back up to the truck. I was at a loss. I had walked the areas the dog had been. I had branched out in the likely directly she would have gone. I had called her name for the last two hours can couldn't find that thriced damned dog. Hell, I had even stopped taking pictures.

Back at the truck, I thought, okay, maybe she's wandered well off Andy's land. I can't do much for the land to the east, but I can check the land to the west, maybe see a small tan spot moving in a large field of tan. Crap, I'm not going to find her, I thought, depression at having lost the dog settling in as the sixth phase of loss. Damn it, dog.

So, I hopped into Andy's truck, and drove back down the dirt trail, and back onto the main road, driving slowly and trying to look for a tan beagle on the mountain sides. I pulled over for other trucks (and they were all trucks) to pass me, as I moved into accepting that we had lost the dog. Stupid annoying little dog, going off on her own and f---ing dying on us. It was SUPPOSED to be a good trip, not a sad trip. Fine, I'd stay the night, but only because I had small bit of hope, possibly we'd hear the calls of the coyotes and be able to find the dog. Dumb dog.

I turned around, and drove the truck back to the Crews' base camp, just as Kris and Andy were walking down Crews Road within shouting distance. On a lark, I called out, "Did you find the dog? Because I didn't!"

"Yes! We did!"

Turns out, Bella decided to hike her own hike. Kris and Andy had walked to the top of the hill that Andy wanted to hike, and turned around. About 200 yards from the peak, Bella popped out of the brush to Andy's and Kris' joyful calls. Instead of turning around with the two of them (five of them?), she kept walking up the hill that Andy and Kris had just summitted. When she reached the top, she turned around, and followed the same path back down the hill that Andy and Kris had taken. She was on her own hike, walking her own pace.

Oddly enough, her own hike didn't involve lots of nose-following, off-the-path directions.

The prodigal doggie returns!


We flew Shamu!


Once again, a group of us all went travelling together. This time, heading home, instead of the east coast(ish). A group of about 10 of us were flying from Florida, through Chicago on our way home. Our layover in Chicago involved a plane switch, so, despite my decision to "step off the plane" and stay for a day, I walked with the group to the next gate.

As we arrived at the new gate, Andy pondered, "I wonder if we flew Shamu."

The rest of us thought about Andy's pondering for a bit, and concluded that yes, based on the whale and underwater decoration in our previous plane, we were on the Shamu plane.

"But which one?" Andy continued.


Turns out, there are three Shamu planes. I didn't have anything else to do. Dad wasn't going to be at the airport for another hour or so, so I told the group, to most everyone's surprise, that I'd go see. I hadn't told anyone other than Andy and Chookie, oh, and the rep at the gate counter, that I wasn't continuing on home, so most everyone was concerned I'd make it back in time for my flight. Given my flight is tomorrow, I think I'll be okay...

So, I hoofed it back over to the gate we had left, to check out the plane. Yes, indeed, we had just flown Shamu:


I walked up to the nearest gate agent, and asked, "Hey, so, do you know which Shamu that is?" pointing to the plane out the window.

"That? Shamu? Oh, yes, let's see," he said. In his best VOA, answered, "that's the fourth Shamu."

I paused.

"Your website says there are only three."

He paused back.

"Oh, yeah, right. That's the third one."

Oooooooooh-kaaaaaaaaaay. So, apparently he didn't know either.

We did, however, fly one of them!

Big Red Ball continues!


Andy had bought a big red ball a few days ago. He was playing with it at the fields. He was playing with it at the villas and on the beach. It was used as a foot rest by some teammates. It became the object of much mirth and entertainment as it was snagged by some teammates, often from under the feet of other teammates.

One morning, say, Saturday's morning, Andy took the ball to the fields and, rather than take it INTO the port-a-potty he was about to use, he set it down outside the port-a-potty before going inside to do his business.

When he came out, it was gone.

Sunday, when he and a group of teammates were at the fields to watch finals, Andy noticed a group of three women bouncing the ball around amongst them. He quickly ran up, grabbed the ball and called out, "Thank you, ball thieves!"

Surprised, the three tried to explain how the ball was just sitting there, it was abandoned, no they really weren't ball thieves.

Uh huh. Riiiiiiiiiight.

After the tragic disappearance and the joyful reappearance of the big red ball, Andy couldn't bear to be without it. Packing it in his luggage, however, might be difficult.

Andy managed to find a way.

How many engineers?


How many engineers does it take to get gas in a rental car on the way to Tampa Bay airport without getting lost?

From today's experience, more than 4.

Heading out to Florida


I firmly believe that I have done as well as I have in life because of the ultimate community I've been a part of for the last 15 years. Most of my friends have come from that community, with many of the friendships enduring beyond the original bond of ultimate.

Given that belief, it should come as exactly no surprise that travelling with a group of ultimate friends should be not only a good time, but also an adventure.

Taking Andy's advice (gee, I wish I could get him to set up his domain), four of us journeyed out to Florida today, in anticipation of the 2008 Ultimate Players Association Club Championships in Sarasota. Andy suggested people fly on Tuesday, as any delay flying on Wednesday means that you potentially arrive on Thursday and in poor shape for playing. We listened to him, and out we flew.

With me were Paul, Warren, Andy and Tyler, who really can't get enough Mischief even though he's left the team. I honestly can't say I blame him in his inability to leave Mischief. Look at me. Though, I typically don't say "Sure!" to playing poker with Paul then losing $120 on a six hour journey across country either.

When we arrived in Sarasota, Paul turned to me and said, "Hey, look. My bag has this whistle on it." He blew into it and generated the sixth most pathetic whiffing noise I'd heard from a whistle. "Hey! I wonder if my bag has one of those, too." I responded, mostly joking.

Turns out, my bag does indeed have one of those whistles, and, hey, what do you know, my whistle works. When I tweeted it, both Paul and I ended up with ear hemorrhages from the sound. Yeah, not very wise to do INSIDE the security section of an airport.

After tooting my own whistle and wandering to the car rental agency, the five of us discovered that my organizational skills do, indeed, have a weak point, and that weak point is located in the Tampa Bay car rental desk area. I couldn't find my rental confirmation number, and no one had a reservation under Hodsden. I am completely positive I had booked a car, and completely unable to find the reservation.

Fortunately, both Tyler and Paul had corporate discounts, so we were able to rent a car at a reasonable rate and head out. The car we rented had a trunk whose volume was exactly equal to the volume of luggage the five of us were willing to put into the trunk, a fact we discovered by using the Tetris skills of the four engineers standing around waiting while the fifth ran back to the terminal to pee.

The best part of the whole car adventure was, of course, having Tyler ride bitch in the back.

Friending up


Kris asked me recently if I had ever friended up. The term originally took me by surprise, but I figured out what he meant fairly quickly.

When two people are in a relationship, for the relationship to work both people need to be on relatively the same level. The "same level" doesn't need to be financial (but could be for some people, I guess), but is usually the same level in terms of looks, personality, and intelligence. I guess education could be in that list, too, but I suspect being able to converse at the same level is more important than highest education level achieved.

Most people gravitate to their level. The couples where one person is higher than the other (or, sure, lower than the other), you have the situation where you think, "What is he doing with HER?" (or maybe, "What is she doing with HER?" or "What is he doing with HIM?" those could (do) happen, too). Of course, the next sentence in the conversation is usually, "Wow, is s/he dating up!" or trading up, or marrying up, or whatever.

I think what makes Kris' and my relationship work is that we both think, "Heh, sucker, I'm totally marrying up." I'm not sure why he thinks he's marrying up (must be my wit, charm and brilliantly brilliant brilliance), but I know that I'm marrying up. He's a good person, in ways that I can't even imagine being, as much as I strive to be. I want him to be proud of me, much the way I want my parents to be proud of me. I want to impress him, make him laugh, have him say, "That's MY wife!" with joy.

This makes him happy, because everyone knows, when the girl is happy, the boy is happy.

So, yeah, I married up. Had I ever friended up?

Kris continued his question when I didn't answer immediately. "You know, been friends with people that you have no idea why they are friends with you?" He went on to tell me about Weasel, a friend from college whom I had met a couple times, and how Weasel as a senior had befriended Kris who was a freshman, and spent a lot of time throwing at the beginning of his ultimate career. Weasel was Kris' first friending up.

I thought about Kris' question for a bit, and said I didn't think so. He thought for a moment or so, then asked, "How about Andy?"




Yeah, Andy is definitely a friending up. Sometimes I wonder why he's friends with me (us?). He's smart. He's accomplished. He smells good (have to put that in there). He's good at ultimate (such an understatement). He intimidates the hell out of me. He's attractive. He's active. Did I mention that he smells good? He tinkers. He's incredibly curious and willing to put forth the effort to figure things out.

Intimidates. Me.

So, yeah, totally friending up on Andy. No idea why he's friends with me.

I thought about how I felt with Andy, and realized that I felt the same way when Kris and I first started spending time with Lisa and Ben. There's an ease we have with Ben and Lisa that came with time. When we first started hanging out, I totally thought Lisa didn't like me. Kris thought I was nuts (clearly, I was). In retrospect, I totally friended up on them, too.

That's four people I friended up with. I'd have to say that makes me pretty lucky.

Attack of the giant grasshopper


Kris, Andy and I set up our camp fairly close to the kitchen last night. We were in a small alcove with bushes all around us, and so nicely sheltered from any wind gusts that might have blown. Unfortunately, as I quickly realized, we were also sheltered from any cool gentle breezes from the river during the night.

After a few minutes in our alcove, I realize that I wasn't going to be able to go to sleep in the little oven we had set up for ourselves, so I grabbed my sleeping pad and wandered out to where all of the bags were stacked next to the kitchen, on a little mound that was sure to have a slight cool breeze. I pushed a bunch to the side to clear a space for me, put my thermarest down, flopped down on top if it, and started to go to sleep.

Now, the location of the pile of bags is well known. It's also fairly visible in the night light, as it's a wide circle of bumps the size of, oh, me. What I didn't know when I flopped down, however, is that the guides would often find bags and other things in their boats that should be in the pile, and fling them onto the pile later in the evening.

Say, when I was lying near the pile.

So, as I was dozing, I started hearing THUMP! THUMP! as large, bag-sized objects rained down around me. Quickly deciding getting beaned with one of these bags wasn't in my best interest, I stood up, grabbed my thermarest, went back to the alcove, and settled down between Kris and Andy again.

I wasn't five minutes settled, and nowhere close to asleep, when I heard a rustling behind us, in the direction of our heads, somewhere in the bushes. My eyes flew open. My heart started racing. What had I just heard? I wondered. No, no, I thought, I'm fine, I'm between Andy and Kris, so I'm in the safe place. Yet the rustling kept coming closer in these sneaky, bursts of activity.

Thoughts of rats and odd birds and other Canyon wildlife started running through my head, so I rolled over, reached around Kris, grabbed his headlamp and turned it on, shining it in the direction of the rustling sounds.

And saw a HUGE grasshopper start jumping my way. As Andy told me later, "You know, shining the headlamp at it was like sending out a 'come play with me' flare to it." I turned off the headlamp, not really wanting to see the grasshopper any longer, but relieved that the noise was from a bug and not a small animal.

I put Kris' headlamp down, rolled over, and finally relieved, started to doze off, no longer hearing the rustling of the grasshopper.

Of course, not hearing the grasshopper meant that it was getting closer to me. Closer... closer.

Suddenly, the grasshopper landed on me.

I screamed and sat up, flailing all around me. "Get it off of me!" I screamed, "It's on me! Get it off!" pushing the sheet away from me. Kris sat up in alarm, asking "What? What's going on?" Andy sat up in alarm on my other side, and reached out. "What's going on?" he asked insistently enough for me to hear. "It's a 4" grasshopper!" I wailed, "it jumped on me!" finally able to calm down enough to stop flailing.

"A four inch long grass hopper? Uh huh, right," Andy later told me he was thinking, as he calmed me down. "It's gone now. You can go back to sleep," he soothed. So, I did. I lay back down and, heart still thumping, tried to calm myself enough to go to sleep.

Suddenly, Andy sat up, and jerked around. I sat up, as did Kris, as Andy jumped up with his headlamp turned on, pointed at the four inch long grasshopper than had landed on him, after it was done torturing me. Look at that, we all marveled, as Andy went to find his river mug. He caught the grasshopper in it, put the lid on it, and put it on the edge of our campsite. Nervous laughter turned to relief, and the three of us went back to our pads to sleep.

For the third time that evening, I started to doze. Now, when I start to doze, my eyelids relax and they will sometimes part a little bit. Not a lot, just enough to see movement and not much else.

Movement like, say, a bug dive bombing your face. Followed by a canyon bat, which is trying to catch said bug for dinner. When the bug landed on my face, I, once again, screamed, and swatted at it, barely missing the bat who was in close pursuit. And once again, Andy and Kris were sitting up, asking me what was wrong, and once again, I was exclaiming some highly-unlikely scenario that, at this point, they had to believe since I was correct the last time.

And, once again, the two of them calmed me. I mean, what are the chances I'd be dive bombed by a bat twice in one night? Small. Go to bed.

As I was settling for a fourth time that night, Andy rolled over and grabbed his light. "Just to be sure," he said, and shined the light above our heads.

Less than twelve inches from where Andy's head had been was a good sized scorpion.

"Let's go sleep some place else," he suggested.

I immediately jumped up, grabbed my pad, and walked back out to where I had moved the bags. I moved a few more bags over, giving the three of us enough room to sleep, threw my pad down, and flopped down on top of it.

And that's where we finally fell asleep on our last night in the Canyon, having survived the Attack of the Fifty Foot Grasshopper: on the top of a small mound, next to the dry bags, in the cool river breeze, in full view of the Canyon night sky.

Swimming the rapids


As the river winds down the Canyon closer to the Hoover Dam, the water pools more and becomes deeper. We were able, if we chose, to jump off two outcroppings into the river. We were also allowed to swim a few rapids if we wanted.

Kris and Andy chose to swim one of the rapids. I recalled swimming the rapids last time, and didn't need to go again.

When Tracy said jump, Andy and Kris went in. They floated down the rapids just fine. At the end of the rapids, Kris and Andy turned to swim back to the boat. After a few futile moments of swimming upstream, Andy turned to swim out of the current. Tracy was able to quickly move the raft next to Andy, so that I could grab his vest and drop backward into the boat, pulling him in.

After Andy was in the boat, we started to go after Kris, who had continued swimming upstream back to the boat. As he was swimming against the river, he wasn't actually swimming any closer to us. We continued to float down the river, Kris in the cold water, us in the raft. When we weren't getting any closer to him, I started to worry. When he stopped swimming toward us, and rolled over onto his back, I started to panic. I turned backward to Tracy, and asked, "Could you go..." and stopped, realizing she would already be going as fast as she could, having also seen Kris stop swimming. Andy shifted, poised on the side of the boat to jump in and help Kris.

Andy and I both called out to Kris, to tell him to keep swimming. As we moved closer to him, Kris figured out he could swim sideways out of the current and into the eddy, so that we could catch up to him more quickly. Five more strokes and we could get him, just five more. Okay, three more. We caught up, Andy grabbed Kris' jacket and hauled in onboard.

Once Kris was sitting next to us, he explained he had rolled over because he was tired, not because he had given up. He was just resting. Having not given us any sign that he was just resting, he understood our panic. We all laughed about it. Yeah, ha ha, my husband with no thermal budget, chilled in the Colorado River. Great.

Tracy summed it up to Kris as my turning to her and just saying, "Please get him." At that point, she charged. I was happy for her doing so.

Jumping the gap


On the way down the river today, there were two spots we were allowed to climb up the 30 foot rock, walk out along the rock jut, and jump off into the river, where the river was deep enough. Kris and Andy scrambled up first, as quickly as they could. I sat where I was in the boat, happy to sit there, take pictures, and stay dry.

When Kris jumped, he flailed his feet, running in the air like a cartoon, until just before he hit the water. Just before the water, he stopped moving, straightened, and landed in the water with a near perfect, vertical entry. He later explained, in the air there was panic ("I'm falling!") until the moment of calm, which is when he stopped flailing and just landed.

His shoes, however, went flying off his feet.

Andy had a similar experience, with the running feet. Tracy chuckled, commenting, "Must be a California thing."

Both landed safely, recovered safely.

Andy commented that the river is dark. He opened his eyes at the bottom, to find nothing but black all around him. Kris said that, without his life jacket, yeah, he would have been in trouble.