Thursday, March 30, 2006

I've created a monster.

Well, it turns out Misseswether had even a better time camping than I thought. She called me at work today to let me know she bought us a tent.

It's ten feet wide and twenty feet long.

That a hell of a lot of tentness.

Oh, she also bought camp potty.

So basically we now have a nylon mobile home. Hey, that's cool. As long as she wants to go camping I'll lug whatever she wants.

And now for a funny potty story: Last weekend at Excalibur Faire Miniwether had her first experience with a port-a-potty. She stepped inside, looked around, spied the male urnial and stated, "Wow, that's a really tiny bathtub." I love that girl, she makes me laugh.

Adventure! Excitement! 100 lbs of camping gear!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Time Warp #3: Excalibur Faire


Quite often I'll wake up in the middle of the night with leg cramps. My usual remedy is to jump out of bed and hop around until the cramps work themselves out. No big deal. Misseswether doesn't even twitch anymore when I do this.

It's a little different when you are laying in your tight-fitting mummy bag.

In a hammock.

When the air around you is 29 F.

And it's the 15th Century.

Oh well, even through the pain the stars were enjoyable in the moonless night. Way brighter and more numerous than our Houston sky. Lucy definately had all her diamonds on Saturday night and even the frozen fog of my breath couldn't hide them. It was awesome. Time travel has it's risks, but it also has many rewards.

My hammock was strung between our Honda Pilot and a friendly oak tree. I knew it was going to be cold so I lined my sleeping bag with aluminized bubblewrap (awesome insulator!) and a 0.5" thick piece of carpet padding. On top of the bag was a fleece blanket. I was wearing wool socks, jeans, turtleneck sweater, second wool sweater, and a wool hat.

But I couldn't feel my feet.

They were numb from the cold. Unfortunately the muscles in my legs didn't share that comfortable numbness. They were knotted up and tearing themselves apart. I tried shifting and stretching in the hammock but it was no good. Nothing could be done but surrender to the cold cold air. I dug myself out of the layers and began trying to hop around.

Did I mention my feet were numb?

And it was very dark?

I'm pretty sure I didn't mention the sticker-bush.

There was a sticker-bush. Three, actually.

A word of warning, when time-traveling one should aim to avoid the Little Ice Age unless properly prepared. For instance, when one knows the temperatures will be below freezing it is not necessary to make sure all the drinking water IS ICED!!! Alas, Misseswether meant well. She knows I normally like ice in my water so when she filled out canteens she made them half ice/half cold water. She's still learning how to be an adventurer. So far she's mastered emergency first aid but then being my spouse gives her plenty of practice...

Morning finally came, at least for me. The sun rose up and found me pacing back and forth wrapped in a blanket trying to return feeling to my feet and remove feeling from my legs. Occasionly I peer into the back of the Honda where Misseswether and Miniwether were sleeping soundly and warmly. They looked very content. I wanted to wake them up, perhaps with some refreshing ICE WATER! I'll poke venomous snakes, giant spiders, and wild hogs with a stick, but I know better than to wake my wife. Noli evocare quod reprimere non potes!

Eventually Miniwether stirred, followed by Misseswether. However, most of the stirring was done by me (along with the mixing, pouring, and serving).

After breakfast I climbed into the back of the Honda with the ladies. The entire front seat was loaded with gear moved there to make room for my sleeping beauties. The enterior of our vehicle was so packed I could hardly turn around which turned out to be a bigger problem than expected.

Did I mention the doors to our Honda have child safety locks? When engaged the doors can only be opened from the outside.

We were on the inside...

Luckily I was able to snake my arm to the ignition and power the window. I seem to spend a lot of time crawling through the Honda's windows while on adventures.

I was able to free us. Later Misseswether claimed she was laughing at our situation, not the view of me dangling upside down hanging out the window.

By this time we had warmed up some and it was time to get dressed in period garb. If one does not want to be burned at the stake by midieval villagers one should try to look like they belong. (I'm still trying to figure out how to avoid that same fate in my own neighborhood, though I suspect less creative use of lawn care equipment might help...). Once dressed we slipped out of the woods and headed to the Faire.

The sun was shining brightly as we entered the Spring Festival. Ribbons decorated the trees, women had flowers in their hair, baby goats frolicked, and children laughed.
This is where I learned the benefits of modern nutrition. The girl next to Miniwether was two years older, but two inches shorter. We ran into that a lot, thank's to Fred, Wilma, and Dino.

Our first stop was the blacksmith. I wanted the shape of my steel striker changed to fit my firepouch better. He quickly had it shortened, retempered, and throwing sparks like an angry dragon. This guy rocked!
blacksmith Flint-steel

After that we wandered over to the belly dancers. Miniwether just about stole the show from them. I'm not sure where she learned to dance like that but past experience suggests it was Misseswether. After all, that's how she caught me...

After the belly dancers it was time for Misseswether to strut her own stuff with a pole dance. She recieved many shouts of encouragement. Hubba Hubba!!!


As usual Miniwether was the perfect mimic.

There were many, er, *colorful* people at the Faire. Suprisily enough, this guy used to date a girl from my hometown in Minnesota! We talked about ice fishing for a while which confused everyone around us. Apparently his technique was to randomly punch holes through the ice, hopefully impaling a fish on his spikes. I find my use of dynamite to be much more effective at getting those hard-to-reach fish.

Alas, the combination of dancing, many foods on sticks, and fish stories were too much for Miniwether. She drifted off in my arms. It was really sweet.

Well, it was sweet for five minutes anyway. That girl is currently weighing in at a pound per inch and she ain't short! We decided it was time to sneak back to the Honda, run it up to 88 mph and make the leap home. It was a good adventure.

And now Misseswether knows not to bring ice water along when camping in freezing weather.

Uh, and I know not to shut us in the Honda with no one outside, one can not easily leap from a hammock while in pain, and you should always know where the sticker-bushes are...

Adventure! Time Travel! Dancing!

Monday, March 20, 2006

I GPSing the borderlands electric...

I've told you how much I love my GPS unit. This thing is great as it allows me to pinpoint excatly where I get into trouble! I recently found a website that increases the "Whoa, cool!" factor up several orders of magnitude for GPS's. If you have a GPS unit you need to check this place out:

This website allows you to upload your tracks and waypoint files and convert them into a number of different views. You can convert your files (any GPS manufacturer!) to files readable by any other GPS unit.

You can overlay your tracks on a topo map of the region.

You can overlay your track on an aerial photograph of the region.

You can overlay your track on a satellite photo.

You can even plot your changes in your altitude!
Uh, this last one is much more interesting when you actually DO change altitude...

You can also convert your track into a Google Earth .kml or .kmz file. Then you can see your track overlayed on Google Earth. This is really neat if you are a map freak!

Oh, and in other news, someone stole all the bamboo I cut last weekend. Grrr argh!

Adventure! Excitment! Electronics!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Saturday's lesson.

Fresh cut bamboo sinks.

As usual, "It seemed like a good idea." proved otherwise.
Clark and I had planned on going canoeing Saturday morning. Unfortunately he came down with some bug and was sick in bed. Instead of adventuring, I spent Saturday morning having a wonderful time with Miniwether chasing squirrels at the park. This was great fun, but it didn't involve mucking about in boats. That afternoon Miniwether and Misseswether had a birthday party to attend so they left me at home.


With assorted saws, hatchets, and ropes...

And the desire to be afloat...

So, ten minutes after they are gone I'm in the middle of a nearby bamboo thicket cutting 19' canes for a raft. I had seen pictures and plans for bamboo rafts on the internet. It looked pretty straight forward, easy to do. Some claimed it could be done in four hours. Since I was going to use zip-ties rather than traditional lashing I figured I could have the raft built, tested, and carried home in three hours. I was pretty excited.

This thicket is kind of spooky. There's assorted paths chopped through it and the odd article of clothing is tossed about. A belt here, a shirt there, a shovel half-buried, and of course, The Shack.


I spent one and a half hours cutting bamboo and dragging it down to Spring Creek. I'm was bloody from thorns, sweaty from the heat, and a little creeped out by the feeling someone had been watching me the whole time... On the other hand I had a great pile of bamboo. The stuff seemed really heavy though, much heavier than I was used to. On a whim I tossed a peice into the creek. It sank until just the barest sliver remained above water.

I watched it slowly surface once, twice, then sink completely as it traveled downstream.

I looked at all the bamboo I cut.

I looked at my cuts, bruises, and stabs.

I went home.

Nobody ever told me fresh-cut bamboo sinks.

Adventure! Experience! Bamboo!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wow, that was intense!

No, not waterskiing across a pond via a tow-rope wrapped around a rear wheel hub of a car (though that is still on the "to do" list. Thanks, Jenn!).

Not downing liters of rum with a repo man (actually, that was awesome, but unrelated to this latest adventure).

Nope, this adventure started out with nice clothes, fancy surroundings (with very comfy seats), and live entertainment. It ended, however, with five dead bodies (not my fault!) and deep introspection.

Life goes by fast. One minute you're an eight year old opening up birthday presents (the "Mr. Action" action figure was the best gift that year!) then *blink* and you're 38 with a wife, child, house, etc. then *blink* again and someones shoveling dirt on you. Everyone talks about this but no one ever does anything about it. I've always felt my life was screaming by. I never wish it was the weekend because I know in half a breath it WILL be the weekend. I hate it. I want it to slow down! There's so much I want to do even though my days are packed and packed. Adventure! Excitement! Exploration! Fatherhood! Work! Reading! Weeding! So much, so much, so much, yet not enough...

It's all going by too fast. :-(

I rarely meet anyone who feels the same way. Maybe superfically, but not deep down screaming in their core. Everyone seems to be wishing it was the weekend, or the end of the school year, or that their children were a bit older and more self reliant.

Aauughhh! No! Stop! There's not enough time to soak everything in! Every day I try and memorize exactly what Miniwether is like. I don't want to lose how wonderful she is at this moment. A week later she's changed, grown. The wonder that she was is erased by the wonder that she's become. But, I wasn't done savoring the wonder that she was!!

It's all going by TOO FAST!!

Well, Friday night I learned someone else felt that way. We have a neighbor who is an actor. You've probably seen him in some commercials (he played a produce manager in a recent Reliant Energy commercial). He also does theater and recently appeared in the grand opening performance at the Texas Repertory Theater. The play was Our Town. I've heard of this play but I had never seen it. Every high school puts it on, so how intense could it possibly be? Walking in to the theater, the set didn't encourage me, either. Two tables, a few chairs, and a couple of step ladders? What the hell was this? I thought it would be some sickly-sweet, goof-ball sort of comedy.

It's not. It, it hurts.

Now I know why every high school does this play. It's because the students need to know what it tells. I doubt any of the students ever get it though.

Thornton Wilder, the author, knew how fast everything passes.

He knew how shallowly from the cup of life's sensations people drink.

He knew how quickly it all ends.

And he knew how it ends, with crying and scrabling for more...

The next day I took Miniwether to a rodeo event. While there I asked her to smell the horses.

I want her to remember EVERYTHING!

Adventure! Excitement! Auugghhh!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Well, that was disappointing.

There are old adventurers and there are bold adventures. The bold adventurers get books written about them.

Old adventurers join The Woodlands Hiking Club.

I found out about them on the web while looking for places to hike around Houston. They meet the first Wednesday of each month at the local library, so with great anticipation I showed up at tonight's meeting. I was looking forward to meeting fellow adventurers who could tell me about rugged, rewarding trails through dark woods and along beautiful rivers. I had even practiced a friendly, non-threatening smile (due to a rather open genetic past, I am blessed/cursed with what many people have refered to as "fangs". My canine teeth are slightly over-sized and they jut out somewhat. Coupling that with my extremely large stature and the overall effect has been likened to "something that needs to be killed with a silver bullet". But I digress.)

So anyway I walk into the room ready to win friends and meet new, interesting people. I'm greeted by a dozen sets of rheumy eyes set in shriveled faces.

"Hi! Is this the Woodlands hiking club?" I ask.

After a long pause one finally mumbles yes. They then quickly turned away and began talking amongst themselves. I stood there a few minutes smiling and nodding my head to a few who accidently made eye contact with me. Then I decided "Screw this." and left. I've encountered groups like this before and they aren't worth my time. Listen folks, if you are ever in a club go out of your be friendly to visitors. Who knows, they might be rich!

Note: I am not rich.

Adventure? Excitement? Heart attacks!