Monday, December 31, 2007

Sam's Ridge & Hazel River - SNP

On Saturday I went out to SNP to hike! I'd again planned to hike on the AT to work toward finishing the central district, however I called ahead and Skyline Drive was closed due to ice storm damage. rats. Luckily I discovered this while still at home and could re-group. I decided to hike a smallish loop - 7 miles - in a region of the park that is typically called "Hazel Country".

Reaching the trail head involved winding back up into what West Virginiaians would call a "holler" - a single lane dirt road and the trail branched off from it. Finding parking would be a challenge as it seems that the majority of the people who own property that bumps up to SNP are crotchety rednecks who aren't fond of hikers. I'm sure there's good reason for this, but it's frustrating for one who truly wants to just park, hike, and leave. I'd love to buy some SNP boundry property someday and create a welcoming place for hikers to park and maybe offer snacks and stuff too...but I digress...

I ended up driving all the way down the road and turned around - I only located the trailhead because another car had parked there and the occupants were getting ready to hike. Luckily there was room for me too so I pulled in. I gave the other hikers a head start and I never saw them again until they arrived back at their car about 5 mins after I arrived back.

Part of the loop I was planning to hike went along the Hazel River - in fact the trail crossed the river 4 times. The guide book had warned hikers to be prepared to wade if the water was high. We've had a drought but it's also rained a lot lately so I had no idea what to expect. I opted to go up the ridge first and then hike along the river at the end, that way if I got wet I'd be almost back at the car!

I headed up the ridge and was glad that I'd did it first - it was quite steep and I would have hated to have to walk down it! Besides I enjoy the uphill much more than the downhill! (I know, I'm crazy). The trail had wonderful winter views of the surrounding mountains, not many that were photo worthy though. Hard to capture the mountains through the trees!

The area I was hiking through had burned in November 2003. It was the largest forest fire in SNP. It was actually 2 fires - one that started on Old Rag Mountain and the other started in a picnic area on Skyline Drive. The two fires converged and a huge section of the park burned. I saw the fire from Skyline Drive as it was coming down the mountain behind Panorama - it was awesome to see. While the area burned it is not dead - the picture above shows a burned out tree - it was only one of a few reminders of the huge fire!

The sun was forcast to make an appearance and it did, but only for a few minutes. I believe that this mountain is Mary's Rock on Skyline Drive, but I could be wrong.

The last mile and a half of the hike I walked along the beautiful and senic Hazel River. The Hazel River is your typical mountain river with big boulders, rushing water and lots of moss! I had to cross the river 4 times. The first time I stayed dry. The second time I got my right foot wet. The third time I got my left foot wet. The fourth time I got both feet soaked. My right foot was so squishy I felt certain that there was at leasy of cup of water in my boot and I considered taking my boot off to dump the water. At this point I was quite happy I was less than a mile from the car as I would not have wanted to hike 6 miles with soaking feet! It was about 50 degrees outside but I really wasn't cold....again though, I'm glad I was close to the car!

The picture above is one of the cascades in the river. My dad had been showing my how to change the sensitivity on my camera and change the sutter speed - I slowed it down for this picture and it mad ethe water blurry! Pretty cool!

Another shot of the Hazel River.

I returned to my car tired, but thrilled that it was only 4:00 - I thought I'd be able to get home and do something with my evening. I thought wrong. Very soon after I got in the car my typical post hike headache got going. This happens almost everytime I go hiking in SNP - it didn't happen in Alaska, Glacier, the Tetons, etc.... By the time I got to Warrenton, about halfway home, I took some Tylenol - it did nothing and by the time I got home I thought my head was going split open. I showered and crawled into bed before 8. I woke up at 3am and my head was still pounding so I took some Advil and when I woke up the next morning the headache was mostly gone.

I have explored various theories on these headaches - dehydration, not eating enough, allergies, asthma. On Saturday's hike all those things were controlled for. My new theory is that when I hike I'm getting migraines triggered by leaf mold and other outdoor allergens. I'll check with the doctor next time I see her. I did buy some Advil Migriane today to try the next time I hike. We'll see. I hope it works because I love hiking and I can only enjoy it in winter as it is!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Drew's End of the Year Meme

My friend Drew posted this on his blog and asked anyone else who wanted to to's a random list of favorite from 2007....I added a few categories as well..

Best Album: that's a hard one as I don't listen to whole "albums" anymore....iPod killed the album star! I never really did before though either... I did really enjoy Dave Matthews Band's Crash this year.
Best Non-Fiction: Words Their Way by Marcia Invernizzi and others and Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mom's Journey to Adoption in China
Best TV Series: Deadliest Catch, The Office
Best Fiction: Water for Elephants and the Stephanie Plum novels
Best Kids’ Music: Free to be You and Me
Best Movie: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry - prob not the best but likely the ONLY movie I saw in 2007
Best Sign of the Apocalypse: This website: Rapture Letters
Best Come Back of the Year: hmmm....not sure on this one...

Ok my categories:
Best Old TV show you are just getting into: Northern Exposure
Best Hike
Anything in Denali National Park
Best grocery store: The New Harris Teeter
Best Summer Vacation: RVing in Alaska

Ok....I'm tagging everyone who reads this too Drew...add your own best of categories and share the events of the year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mr. Deity

Need some offbeat "Christian" humor in your day?
Go here click on "shows" then on Mr. Deity. Funny Stuff.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I like a combination.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Artifical - we have always had a fake tree so that's just the way it's supposed to be. Also, I have serious allergies to all things outdoors so can't have a real tree.

3. When do you put up the tree? I usually don't. For the last 5 years I haven't put up a tree. I'm not home for the holiday and I just have to find time to take it down and put it away.

4. When do you take the tree down? Never b/c I don't put it up!

5. Do you like eggnog? I'm not a huge fan - a half a cup with some fruitcake or sherry cake is nice. Susan makes a great homemade egg nog.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? many....the year of the Cabbage Patch Kid rush my mom arranged for me to get a homemade Cabbage Patch Kid. It was also the year I stopped believing in Santa. She wanted to make things more fun so she hid all my gifts in the living room and tied string around each one I had to follow the string - rolling it up on a toilet paper tube as I went - to each gift. The Cabbage Patch Kid was last, along the way there were Cabbage Patch accessories and it was making me mad b/c I thought I'd never really have a Cabbage Patch doll for them and couldn't figure out why mom had gotten me all these things.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, I have one that I cross stitched - it's 10 stand up figures that I cross stitched and had professionally finished. It stays out year round.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
My mom and Dad - they usually just go buy whatever they want so it's hard.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
The kids on my list - Alex, Evan, Brandon - they are little so prtty much anything works...or just wrapping paper and empty shipping envelopes.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Not that I recieved but last year my grandma was given a box set of Hee Haw DVDs. Guess what we did Christmas afternoon? That's right. 6 hours of Hee Haw. Funny at first, annoying 6 hours later.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I haven't done any in recent years, but I do love recieving newsy letters with pictures and stuff!

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Hands down A Christmas Story. Cracks me up every time. No I don't watch the entire 24 hour marathon on Christmas eve but I usual tune in to parts of it.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I don't buy much, I start when I see the 1st present I like for someone - I don't buy "random stuff" I try to make sure the gift matches the person and if I can't find anything then they might not get a gift!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Oh my gosh yes!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Peanut butter candy, fudge, sherry cake, fruit cake, christmas cookies, crandberry layerd jello salad...everything.

16. Lights white or colored on the tree?
white lights - although Mom had a tree when we lived in Cincinnati covered in colored lights and it was pretty. colored lights get obnoxious fast.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Anything that is a carol - I'm not a big fan of Christmas songs that don't mention Jesus.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
Travel - I usually get my grandmother in Fredericksburg on Christmas eve or the day before and we go to my parents house in Williamsburg. No kids involved so it's usually very low key.

19. Can you name all of Santa's' reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph!!!!!!!! I teach 1st grade - this is basic information!

20. Angel on the treetop or a star?
My mom made an Angel when I was young - I used to think she was the most beautiful thing ever. I saw it the other day in a box in the attic....she's looking abig ragged.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas Day - with no kids involved we usually sleep in, eata leisurly breakfast and then maybe around 11 or 12 mosy into the living room and open presents. We go 1 person at a time and show off what we got usually takes 2-3 hours but we chit chat and break for cofee and stuff...

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
That you couldn't go to the mall if you wanted to. Radio stations that play holiday music that isn't even religious. That EVERYONE, including the Muslim children at my school, celebrates Christmas - it seems to take the meaning out when it's a mass holiday that is celebrated irrespective of religon.

23. What do you love most about Christmas?
The songs, the lights, the cold weather - the snow (here's hoping for more!)

I have gotten this survey through e-mail several times but posted it back here and feel the need to tag people....if you are reading this and haven't posted this to your are it!!! :) Post away! :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving with the Family

Dad's side of the family - Thanksgiving Day - Ditchley

On Saturday, we got together with Mom's side of the family to celebrate my Grandmother's and my Uncle's birthdays!

The Blind Doggie Cronicles: Part 1, Blind Doggie goes on a trip

A few weeks ago I discovered that my dog was blind. I debated leaving her in a kennel for my anual Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Williamsburg and Glouster VA, however decided that she'd rather stay with me, blind or not, and that she'd prob do fine. I'd decided that I'd keep her on her leash while were at the family gathering at Ditchley so she wouldn't wander off and get lost or otherwise get in touble.

My great Jessie (my dad's aunt) has a house on the Ware River near Glouster, VA - it's an old plantation house and there's lots of land. Every year at Thanksgiving the entire extended family gathers there for a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. We have anywhere from 10-50 people - this year I think we had 30 or so. It's just a dinner event - we all show up, eat ourseleves silly, and leave. Dogs are an integral part of the event - sometimes out numbering the humans! One year my great uncle George commented that he knew more dogs than people!

So anyway, Daisy and I left Woodbridge around 8:15 am on Thursday and zipped right down to Williamsburg, arriving by 10:30 am. Daisy Mae did just fine on the trip down and when we arrived at my parents house, she explored and sniffed, and checked the floor for any dropped food, finding none, she curled up and went to sleep.

When it was time to head to Ditchley, she let me pick her up and put her in the car and she did great on the trip out. When we got there, I decided to tie her to the tv table so hopefully she'd be out of the way and not get into trouble. We'll she didn't like that much and insited on pulling the leash as far as she could and was in everyone's way. Since it was so lovely outside (it was 75+ degrees) we all ate outside so I took her outside and tied her to my chair. This worked, except that I couldn't get up!

Late in the afternoon I decided to take a walk out the pier - I hadn't been out on the pier since before Hurrican Isabel destroyed part of it 5 years ago! It was sunset and the sky was really pretty. Daisy and I were strolling down the pier, I was taking pictures of the sunset, when all the sudden I felt a tug on the leash, then felt the leash slide out of my hand. I looked behind me and Daisy was gone! I looked down and there she was in the water! If you know my dog you know that's NOT a swimmer. She won't even go out in the rain! The good news is that she did know how to swim. The bad news, she started swimming the wrong direction! She was swimming AWAY from the shore and out into deeper water! Oh no! My dad and I were thinking we were going to need to go in after her. I was about to, but I knew I didn't have any extra clothes so was thinking I'd have to skinny dip. Not exactly the thing to do at the family thanksgiving gathering. Luckily when I started calling out to Daisy she turned around and swam toward my voice and she was able to follow my voice all the way to the shore! Pretty amazing!

When I got her out of the water we walked back to the house, I dried her off and put her in the car - she was safer there!

The rest of the trip went well. Daisy did a great job of learning a new enviornment! Took a lot of trust on her part since she really had to rely on me to guide her and trust that I wasn't going to let her get hurt. The biggest challenge at my parents house are the steps going up stairs. They are hardwood with a runner up the middle. If her feet aren't on the runner she slides all over. She uses the wall to guide her down the stairs at home, however at mom and dad's she can't get to the wall because there is no carpeting there. Going up she does ok, going down is a big challenge.

We got home a few hours ago and she's been sleeping it all off! I can tell she's much happier being home where she knows where everything is!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What doesn't the Warranty Cover?

Everything that was actually wrong with my car. Car rental - free, getting the car repaired - crazy expensive.

The verdict: After a mere 36,000 miles the brakes on my car were gone. Nothing left. All parts that could get worn were worn. Needed the front brakes entirely replaced. Of course this is a wear issue, not covered by the warranty. The reason they wore out so quick? Likely overuse. Welcome to DC traffic hell.

There were a number of other things that needed fixing so I just had them fix it all. Ws considering keeping the free rental car! It was cheaper! HA!

The good news? They got it all fixed today and I picked it up this evening! The pick-up was much easier - I was able to return the rental to the Saturn place and the cashier was there until 7:00 so I didn't have to rush!

I was super efficent and stopped at Thomas's Pizza (the best pizza in the area, right by the Saturn place) and ordered a pizza on my way to the dealer and it was ready when I came back though! :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Praises to the Extended Warranty

When I was on my way home from SNP on Saturday I noticed my car making a strange grinding noise when I applied the brakes. It kinda reminded me of the noise the car made when the I had a flat tire (which incidently had happened in the exact same place!), but stopped when I wasn't pressing on the brakes. I kinda ignored it b/c when I turned the radio up I couldn't hear it and I didn't have time to deal with it.

Well the problem quickly escalated. Last night I went out to dinner with a friend and I drove and had the radio off - man it was a loud, awful, grinding, screching sound. Sounded like something was caught in the brakes and dying or something. The car still stopped and all but it would shake a little and make SOOOO much noise.

The bigger problem was that I didn't have to deal with this - I'd had a thing after school on Mon, then Tues was our family literacy program, Partners in Print, that I'm in charge of and that took all my planning time so I didn't have a spare moment Mon or Tues to even call to get an appointment. I almost called in sick this morning to stay home and deal with this, but my classroom was a disaster because we just tossed all our materials from Partners in Print in my room - I didn't even know where my attendance was, couldn't have a sub in that. So then I thought I'd leave early - um no, I had a parent coming at 4:00 for a conference that I'd already rescheduled once.

So this AM I call the Saturn place to see what the latest time I can come is. Well, if I want it looked at today I had to be there by 4:00 - not going to happen. If I wanted to drop it off and get a rental I had to have it there by 5:30. Probably not going to happen.

So now I'm thinking I'd just wait till tomorrow. Well, tomorrow is just as crazy - it's our Thanksgiving Lunch which is just pure chaos, can't leave the kids with a sub for that so I thought I'd take the afternoon off - I tried to call it in to the sub computer and my cell phone battery was dead and I couldn't get my pin number out. aghhhhh. Maybe I would just come in late - call in and say I was having car trouble and come an hour or so late.

Oh and as a complicating factor, I HAVE to go get my allergy shots tomorrow - I already missed a week and can't go any other day. AGHHHH. So getting a friend to drive me to school was out - and depending on when it's ready (if it's ready tomorrow) I'll have to double back or leave early or something...

After school the parents I was meeting with showed up on time and we talked for about 20 mins then I hightailed it out of there. Left school at 4:30 and rolled into the Saturn dealer at 5:30 on the nose! WOW! The service guy checked me in and called the Enterprise people to "pick me up".

The best part....I have an extended warranty on my car so the car rental is "On Saturn"!!!!! YEAH! I hope the repair falls under the warranty also - I can't remember what it covers, if something broke it's covered, if it was damaged I don't think it's covered.

So by 6:30 I was crusin' in a Merlot Ford Tarus boat - I think the 80's left this car behind - it has a tape deck! I think they stopped making tape decks in cars in the 90s! The "cigarrette lighter" doesn't power my iPod (b/c this thing was built before iPods were invented I bet)so tonight I dug through my shoebox of cassette tapes - like a trip down retro lane! I'd thought about pulling all my tapes out to see if there were songs that I wanted to download from iTunes so now's my chance!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Cable Company

About a year ago I posted this rant in my MySpace blog:

Our local cable provider can provide it's customers with high speed internet, DVR, on demand movies, and hundereds and thousands of TV channels. They are the internet, they are technology.....what they cannot do however is send your bill electronically. WTF?

Not only that but the bill is ALWAYS due at the end of the month and it never arrives until the day AFTER I have paid the bills for the month as a result I'm constantly a month behind on my cable bill. I have called, I have explained that if they'd like their $ on time they should send the bill at a different time in the month and they have said that they can't move it. Now that I have switched over to online bill pay though I just direct the bank to pay them when I pay the rest of my bills and it has been working better....just can't believe the "the internet company" can't send me an e-bill like all the other utilities!

Today the rant gets longer. Due to Comcasts billing issues I usually simply pay them a round sum of money every month with out even looking at the bill (as I could find the paper bill amidst the other papers). I think the bill is generally about $61 so I just round up and electronically send them money. Last month I actually looked at the bill and it was over $100! I must have been late a few times or something - so on October 21st I paid them $120 - thinking I'd just run a credit for a few months - no big deal. Tonight I got a phone call from Comcast - regarding my payment. Apparently they were perturbed by my overpayment of their bill. I asked what exactly the problem was - I'd paid my bill. The gal said that was fine and told me to have a good night. WTF? I asked her about why I couldn't pay the bill online like all my others and why it's one of 2 paper bills I get that cannot be turned into e-bills - she told me to call Comcast directly - so this gal was some telemarkter person.

Oh and an added rant about Comcast - in June, the last day of school to be exact, Comcast rearragned ALL it's channels - suddenly my favorite channels were not what they used to be - not only that but whatever they did it did not register with my TiVo (which usually knows everything) so for like 3 days I recorded soap operas in Spanish rather than King of Queen, Will and Grace and Friends. When I discovered this I had to go in and manually change all the channels so TiVo would know what was what. Further, Comcast has still (almost 6 months later) not been able to post the channel line-up on the web so my TV downstairs is permanently on Lifetime since that's the only channel I know the number for that has shows I like - the TiVo is the only one in the house who knows what station is which! Aghhh!!!!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Snow on the Mountain!

I finally had a free Saturday! I had big plans to head out to Shenandoah National Park for a long awaited hike! It had rained a lot last night and was still cloudy and dreary looking this morning, but I was going hiking and I didn't care that it wasn't the prettiest of days. I'd gone to bed super early Fri night and woke up pretty early Sat morning so had time to get myself together, get the sheets through the washer and the dryer and update my iPod before heading out about 10 am.

I had a hard time deciding what to wear - mostly I wasn't sure if I should wear my Helly Hansen Polyproplyene long underwear top. The only other time I'd worn it was when Dad and I hiked to The Harding Ice Field in Kenai Fjords NP and I was so hot I nearly drowned in sweat. I finally decided to go ahead and wear the shirt - it was forecast to be 46 degrees here and I figured it would be a bit colder on the mountain and 46 was going to feel pretty cold.

I gathered up all my winter hiking clothes - my gore-tex pants, 2 fleece tops, 2 prs of gloves and a fleece ear warmer and headed out. I decided to stop at Harris Teeter in Bristow to grab lunch - as an added bounus I had a $10 coupon so it was almost free! :) I arrived at the park around Noon - there was a line at the Thorton Gap entrance station which surprised me because it was such a dreary day.

I'd planned to hike a portion of the AT from Pocosin Fire Road to South River Fire Road which was at about mile Marker 60 - I was at about mile 30. At first there were no views from Skyline Drive - just fog and clouds where the mountains should be. Then as I traveled further south and gained elevation - there was snow!!!! And then there was fog. It was a heavy wet snow that stuck in every nook and cranny of the trees creating a beautiful winter wonderland! The fog I could do without - in places you couldn't see 2 ft in front of you.

Due to driving conditions I quickly ditched the idea of going all the way to Pocosin Fire Rd - opting instead for Whiteoak Canyon. It was closer, and I figured that there would be lots of people there. I pulled into the parking lot and I was one of 3 cars! 3 cars in the Whiteoak Canyon parking lot at 12:30 on a Saturday. I couldn't believe it. Yes, the weather was nasty - but it wasn't snowing or raining. It was cold though - it was 30 degrees when I got out of the car. I was instantly glad that I'd worn the long underwear shirt and brought all my winter gear! As I was getting myself ready to go another car pulled up and I started chatting with the people who were in it - turns out Skyline Drive had been closed up until just a few minutes before I pulled up! :) WOW - amazing timing!

The trail itself was a winter wonderland and I had it all to myself! Whiteoak Canyon, the most popular trail in the park, and it was all mine on a Saturday afternoon! And it was covered in snow to make it even better! The silence of the forest was just amazing. As I descended to the upper falls there was less snow and the temps were rising. At the upper falls there was no snow and the trees were alive with fall colors!

At the overlook there were about 10 people, most of whom had hiked in from the bottom since the drive had been closed when they arrived. They were a bit pertubred to learn that the drive was open and that it was covered in snow! :)

It only took me an hour to hike down to the falls, but I was anxious about getting back to the top since they close the drive at 5:00. It took me about an hour to get back so I was back at the car in plenty of time to get off the drive before I got locked in.

I'm so glad I was able to get out today and enjoy the dueling seasons - one minute it was fall and the next it was winter!

Check out the pics below! :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

When I got home this evening I checked the weather...the temp is going down to 29!!!! FINALLY! The 1st freeze. The freeze that kills the pollen! No more pollen until March when the trees get going!!!!! YIPPPEEEE!!!!! :)

We now do the dance of joy!

Alex and Evan

Over the weekend I went to my friend Rachel's wedding! It was so much fun! A beatuful setting and great friends to see! I have a few other pictures but let's get started with a few of my favorite "little people" - Drew and Brenna's kids Alex and Evan.....

Alex - age 2 1/2 - grinning in the sun on the deck after Rachel and John's wedding.

Evan - age 7 months - contemplating life.

Alex and Evan with their Daddy.

Alex exploring the water glass.

Alex enjoying the ice cream - he also enjoyed the cheese, grapes, bluberries, tomatoes, cucumber, chicken, french fries (or are they just fries?), and cake - the boy can eat!

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm the only me!
LogoThere is
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pushing Daisies

A few weeks ago my friend Susan posted about a new show on ABC Pushing Daisies so I decided I'd TiVo it and see for myself.

I just watched it and oh my gosh it's hysterical! It's a totally psychedelic crime show - it's the love child of Scooby Doo and CSI. There is a whole pie motif as well that makes me think of Twin Peaks...remember that one?

Basically the gist is that this guy - the Pie Man - has a gift - he can touch dead people and they come alive, if he touches them again they die forever. If he keeps them alive for more than one minute something else must die. He uses his gift to solve crimes, he wakes the dead asks who killed them and instantly solves the crime bringing justice to the dead. He has brought back his childhood sweetheart...only catch is that he can't touch her, b/c it would kill her.

It's a totally hysterical show and I encourage everyone who is reading this, although Susan I think is the only one and she already watches it, to watch it so it doesn't get cancled! :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blind Doggie

My doggie, Daisy Mae, has been having some issues. She's old - at least 10, maybe even older and lately she's been wetting the bed everytime she lays down. She had peed on all her beds and herself. That was my big concern that lead us to the vet today. It stinks. It makes a mess. And I had no idea why it was happening. I'd noticed that she was having trouble on the stairs in the mornings and so I figured her arthritis was getting bad and she was stiff in the morning. I'd also noticed, fairly recently, like in the last week - week and a half that she was bumping into things. Mostly in the morning when I let her out she'd miss the sliding glass door and walk head on into my antique-painted-by-my-great-grandmother coal hod by the fireplace. One morning she got stuck behind my desk attempting to go out the wrong side of the sliding glass door. I'd sorta chalked this up to the fact that she's not a morning dog and maybe wasn't quite awake yet. This morning when I fed her she walked over to her dish and walked right into the wall before before bending down to eat.

I took her to the vet early so she could get a bath before the appointment. The whole staff at the vet's office noticed that she was running into things. The vet was quite concerned, esp since this was so sudden. Turns out Daisy is blind. I'm not sure if it's total blindness at this point or rapidly deteriorating but she def can't see well at all. My vet has referred us to a Veterinary Opthomologist to investigate and fully diagnose the problem.

This is why she has a problem with stairs. Suddenly she can't see them. Maybe this is why she is incontinent all the sudden - she can't see to get downstairs when she has to go.

The dr gave us some pills for the incontinence, but the sudden blindness was a much bigger concern.

I have surfed the net a bit and there's actually a lot out there. It's sounding like this is a permanent situation, but I don't think it will be that bad - of course it's likely the beginning of a downward spiral for my senior doggie. :(

Friday, October 12, 2007

Calling all Deadlist Catch Fans!!!!! The final Armchair Traveler Reviews!

If you love Deadlist Catch then you need to read these 2 books:

Lucy The Giant by Sherri Smith - I don't normally go for young adult novels, however I enjoyed this one! Lucy is a teenager growing up in Sitka, AK, who deals with much of the usual teenage angst - excaerbated by the fact that Lucy is overly tall, her father is a drunk, her mom ran away when Lucy was little and she doesn't think she has any real friends. Opportunity presents itself and Lucy runs away to Kodiak and joins the crew of a crab boat where she discovers community and friendship and life on a crab boat is much better than life at home. Lucy's utopia unfortuently is shattered by the secrets she was keeping. But the book has a happy ending!

Dead in the Water by Dana Stabenow - Dana Stabenow is "the Alaskan Mystery Writer" she has written lots and lots of books all set in Alaska any many starting Kate Shugak. Kate used to work in DA office in Anchorage, now she's unoffical, but she still helps out. In this book she is under cover on a crab boat to determine what happened to 2 crew members who met untimely and unexplained deaths the previous season. Kate quickly uncovered the true identity of the skipper and quickly figured out how the crew members seemed as if every lead she followed turned into something important...which kept the book moving, but left me feeling that the story was very contrived. There were some surprises at the end of the story, however since this is one many stories starring Kate Shugak so you know that she survives no matter what and that took away some of the suspense.

The thing I found most interesting about both of these books was that it is considred bad luck to have a woman on a crab boat...yet both of these books have women main characters!

Both books made for good Deadlist Catch fixes and were decent reads about AK!
Not only that but I have now completed the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge!!! :) Go me! :)
I really enjoyed the was fun to read books around a theme and have a reason to blog about them....I'll be on the lookout for the next challenge....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2 hours...

That's how long it took me to get home tonight. Susan has blogged a lot about the horrors of traffic here in the DC suburbs but today took the cake. I left school at 5:50. I walked into my house at 8:00. That's more than 2 hours. It's less than 20 miles from my school to my house. The reason: A truck accident on I-95 south right at "my" exit. Apparently the accident happened BEFORE rush hour so that must have been like 10am - there's not much day that would classify as "before" rush hour. And apparently 95 south was shut down for awhile. Traffic was backed up everywhere! I know about 12 different ways to get home from school and I tried all of them. Every route I took I was greeted with lines of backed up cars. Many times I just broke down into tears I was so frustrated and feeling so clausterphobic about being literally being stuck with no way out. Kinda made me wish I was driving my little RV again...then I could have pulled off and watched TV or something! :)

Do you realize how far I could get in 2 hours driving the speed limit? Almost the whole way to my friend in Central PA's house. Williamsburg - which is like a whole other era so I could practically go back in time in 2 hours. The Mountains - Shenandoah National Park is less than 2 hours away. And it took me 2 hours to drive 20 miles today.

There are only 2 other times that I remember traffic being this was Sept 18, 2001, exactly one week after 9/11 - they re-opened some of the military bases and with the heightend security traffic backed up very quickly. I was interning in Southeast DC at the time and it took me 3 hours to get to work. I didn't have a cell phone either. There was a silver lining then though...I was at the top of a hill on I-275 in Washington DC with an amazing view of the Capitol, The Monument, and The Pentagon when they played the National Anthem in conmemortation of the one week aniversary. That was an amazing moment.

The other time traffic was this bad was the day a fertilizer truck over turned on I-95 and they had to shut down the road for the whole day and re-pave the road b/c the fertilizer ate through the asphalt! That was a big mess because there was no way to get south of DC and 95 was backed up from the Beltway to Fredericksburg. The silver lining there....I wasn't sitting in the traffic.

Today, no silver lining.
Drive safe out there wouldn't want the biggest back up in DC history to be your fault! :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Book Quiz.....

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

You're West Virginia!

You are a true coal miner's daughter, or maybe even son. You probably
smoke, and your lungs are paying for it every day. While you're definitely willing to
separate yourself from the crowd for what you believe in, this policy has put you into
a state of unending obscurity and poverty. As a result, people only come to visit you
on foot, and usually they're just trying to prove that they can do it. Keep a canary on
your shoulder whenever possible.

Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Challenge Update

Well, I was crusing along with my books for the reading challenge. Then I started About Grace
by Anthony Doerr. Life is too short for About Grace. I'm usually not one to put down a book that I have begun - I usually plow through it, even if I decide I'm not a fan or it's too hard. I was planning to do that with About Grace, however about 2 weeks ago I got a notice from the library that it was my turn for Khaled Hosseni's A Thousand Splendid Suns. I knew I had to put About Grace down and read this one since it was in such hot demand I'd never be able to renew it. I absouletly loved A Thousand Splendid Suns. I thought it was just magnificent writing and such a compelling, though heart breaking and horrifying, story. I couldn't believe how Hoesseni was able to draw me into a story that was so far outside of my own exsistence! Abosultely amazing. A must read. Now, I know I could count A Thousand Splendid Suns toward my challenge, many people have it on their lists, however I had decided before I started that all my challenge books would be about Alaska. So back to About Grace.
It's not a bad book. In fact, it's prob a great story. It's just dense. Very very dense. The story is about a man who has an affair with a married woman, they have a child, Grace, they get married and move from AK to Ohio. He has these dreams in which he sees the future. In one of the dreams he dreams that Grace dies in a flood. He tries to change the course of things and his wife thinks he's crazy. The flood he dreamt about happens, but his wife kicks him out of her and Grace's life and he doesn't learn if Grace survives or not. He then moves to an island where he tries to make sense of everything. The story is full of his angst, uneasyness, and grief about possibly killing his daughter as well as the giant question mark - is she alive or not. He attempts communication through letters with his wife and child but they are never answered. I got far enough into the book that I was attached to this man and very interested in hearing the end of the story. However, it's such a dark tale and so tough to get through the writing that going back to it, especially after reading about the horrors of modern day Afghanistan was asking too much. new book(s) for the challenge:
I needed a twinkie read so I have actually come up with 3!
The Homestead Kid - This is a book that my mom bought me in AK. It's about a family who took in a number of foster children and then moved to bush of AK to build a homestead and live off the land. They loaded up in an old school bus turned camper and bought a claim of land outside of Fairbanks. They all pitched in to build the cabin and barn and other buildings. It's dubbed "Little House on the Perma-Frost" - for all you Laura Ingalls fans!
Dead in the Water - Dana Stabenow I had previously avioded her work not being a big fan of mysteries, esp criminal/murder mysteries, however she has written so many books about Alaska that I had to try just one. This one takes place on a crab boat on the Bering Sea so might be able to scratch my "Deadlist Catch" itch in the process.
Lucy the Giant - Sherri Smith This is actually a young adult book - there are lots of young adult books about AK, but I'd kind of been avoiding them just because I'm not too into reading books about teenagers - even though I know there are some great YA books out there! This one also is set on a crab boat in the Bering Sea!
So whichever one I finish 1st I'll post as my final book in the challenge. Do I get extra credit for the other 2?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Middle Name

Well Susan tagged me so here goes.....I liked this one, it was a bit different....

Here are the rules for this Meme:

The Rules:
1) You have to post the rules before you give the facts.
2) Players must list one fact that is relevant to your life for each letter in your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name then use a name that you like.
3) When you are tagged, you must write a post containing your own middle name game facts.
4) At the end of your post, you must tag one person for each letter in your middle name. Don’t forget to comment them telling that they are tagged and to read your post to get the rules.

My middle name is Reeder. I'm named after my God Parents, Edythe and PE Reeder. They were both teachers in Dunbar West Virginia - Edythe taught 3rd grade (and was "the" 3rd grade teacher that everyone wanted their kids to have) and PE taught High School English. Both were active in the National Education Association and PE was even the president of their local chapter at one time. I find this interesting because no one else in my immediate family is in education in anyway shape or form. Even the last time I saw Edythe and was very old, suffering from Alzhiemer's and hadn't seen me in years her 1st question for me was "Is my baby a teacher yet?" Anyway, I digress - I'm named after them because they had no children of their own, just a few God Children. The agreement my parents made with Edythe and PE was that she would name me after them and then I would get Edythe's silver punch bowl after they died. They are both dead now and I have no punch bowl, oh well, it's a good story!

Ok on with the Meme:

R - Read....I love to read! I mostly read novels - I'm currently reading Khaled Hosseni's "A Thousand Splendid Suns", but I also enjoy magazines, professional books and educational journals

E - Engergetic, most of the time, when my allergies aren't acting up, I'm very energetic

E - eating....really, who doesn't love to eat????

D - Doing crafts - I enjoy crafts of all kinds, but I'm especially partial to cross stitching.

E (another e? seriously, this is hard...) - Excercise - gotta work off all that food right? I'm not to regular about it but I enjoy getting on my treadmill, or going for a swim, when it's not a pollen season or too hot (so like January) I really enjoy going hiking in the mountains. I'm also getting into yoga, a friend of mine from work teaches a yoga class after school and it's lots of fun!)

R - Relax - I always enjoy a good day of relaxing in my jammies with my computer and my TiVo!

Ok so now I have to tag 5 people....hmmm...can't tag the person who sent me this....let's see...I'll tag: Brenna, Counsuelo, Kristie, John, and Judy (yes I know your sister already tagged you)

Monday, September 03, 2007


This evening I let my dog out in our backyard. My backyard has a large grassy area with "flower beds" around the edges. The "flower beds" were lovely when I moved in 5 years ago, but they are now over grown and full of weeds. Daisy likes to crawl around in the weeds and sniff things. Tonight was no exception.

She was out rooting around in the weeds and I was checking e-mail and such. She comes to the door and scratches to be let in. I go to the door and immedatlely notice that she has something in her mouth - her mouth is bulging and there's some furry grass sitcking out. I figured whatever it was that was in there was dead and I surely didn't want it in the house. I figured Daisy had a plan for her critter - likely to eat it - and I didn't want her to do that on her bed!

So through the glass I directed her to "drop it". Daisy doesn't know any commands, but I swear she understands me. She looked at me like "Drop what, I don't have anything." I then told her "You aren't coming in until you drop whatever is in your mouth." Again she looked at me like she didn't know what I was talking about. I then gave her a stern "NO!"

At this point she backed away from the door. I decided I had to go out there with her. I opened the door and she made a run for it. Luckily she's old and fat and I caught her collar before she got in the house.

I finally managed to pry open her mouth (luckily I'm reasonably sure she won't bite me) and about half of the furry creature emerged. It reminded me of childbirth. It was gross.

I pried her mouth even further open and the entire dead baby rabbit fell out. :( It was whole and didn't look like it had suffered.

I then sent the dog in the house with a stern "get in there" and she was smart enough to go. My next task was to get the shovel and get the body off the patio and out of the yard where hopefully a hawk or other predatory animal was able to get a free meal.

This is now the 2nd baby rabbit she has killed, that I know of. Who knows if she killed more and devoured them outside. You'd think the rabbits would learn not to build a nest in my yard! And to think that for 6 months she shared a house with a rabbit!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Armchair Traveler Challenge - book #5 - Manhunt

I finished this book weeks ago and at the time felt like I was just blowing through these books! My last challenge book however is proving to be more of a chunkster! Manhunt was yet another "twinkie read" - this was the utmost of "twinkie reads". Alex Scott is in her late 20s and single. She wants to find a husband so she trades her condo on the East Coast for a cabin and "hardware store" in rural AK. While on the ferry coming from the states she manages to get herself in a bit of a predicament and the drama surrounding it caught the attention of an unsuspecting man. Turns out the man's cabin/property is adjacent to Alex's and thus blooms a love/hate relationship that surprises them both. With few characters and a straightforward plot this was a light and easy read. It was def a "romance" novel, however it was in no way "trashy". There were parts that made me laugh out loud!

This is an "orginal" Janet Evanovich. Before Janet became a famous author she, like many aspiring writers, wrote romance novels, and like many budding authors Janet used an assumed name. Now that Janet has hit it big and made the NY Times Bestseller's list, they are re-publishing all her original books and putting her name on them. I think I'm going to have to add Janet Evanovich to my "To Be Read" list!

It could be awhile on the last book, "About Grace", it's a great story and I'm enjoying it, however it's slow going. Been reading it for weeks and am not even 200 pages into it! To further complicate things it's my turn at the library for Khaled Hosseini's latest "A Thousand Splendid Suns". When I requested the book back in June I was 176th in line...I'm surprised at how quickly I got to the front - maybe it's a quick read. So I will have to put "About Grace" down tomorrow when I can finally get to the library (they were closed all weekend) and pick it up since I know that I won't get more than 3 weeks to read "A Thousand Splendid Suns". What will be interesting is that I renewed "About Grace" for the 4th time today...I think that's my limit so I may have to plead my case with the librarian to let me return it, then check it right back out again!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Armchair Traveler Challenge - Book #4 - Sitka

Sitka by Louis L'Amour

I had never read any Louis L'Amour though the name was familar as I believe that my grandfather read all his books. I never thought I'd like "Westerns" but having been to the western parts of the country I think I might enjoy them more.

This might be one of my favorite of my Alaska books that I have read. This was a historical fiction set during the time when Alaska was a Russian colony, right before it was sold to the US. At times my comprehension skills were put to the test as the book was political in places and many times the author presented information before he explained it. Once I figured out his style I could relax a little and know that if I was confused I should just keep reading and it woud get all explained.

I highly recommend this one!

Armchair Traveler Challenge - Book #3 - The Serpents Trail

Sue Henry has written a whole series of mysteries set in Alaska. I saw them all and randomly picked one. The one I picked had a motorhome on the cover and it said it was about a single retired woman driving the Alaskan Highway.

Well, not quite. It was about a 60 something single lady, Maxine, and her Dachsund, Strech. And she has a house on the Katachemak Bay in Homer. And she drove the Alcan Highway to get to the Lower 48. However the story took place in Colorado.

This was what I call a "twinkie read". Not exactly good for you but enjoyable and easy to read. The story was about Maxine's best friend Sarah who died unexpectedly and Maxine was charged with uncovering many deep dark secrets about her friend and investigating her untimley death.

The odd thing about the plot was that this woman was confronted with the death of dear friend, however the emotions that would surround that didn't come out in the story. To me that took away from the story. Also the author spent a large amount of time describing unimportant things. I think maybe she was creating a distraction and giving the reader more details to sort through, but I found the extraneous information just that.

I will def read more Sue Henry novels when I'm looking for some twinkie reads! I already have the next Maxine and Stretch novel!

Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge #2 - True North

During my trip I managed to read 3 of my challenge books! I'm going to review each of them in seperate entries.

True North - by Kimberly Kafka

This was a nice book. It wasn't a great book, just a nice one. I would recommend it to someone else though.

Bailey has moved to Alaska from the east coast to escape a tragedy. She lives alone in a cabin way out in the bush. She flies her own float plane and she's a medical professional. She finds acceptance, and even attracts the attention of one of the native men. All is going well until two 20something kids come from the east coast for 2 weeks of camping at the lodge owned by the natives nearby. The kids arrival causes many secrets to be revealed and personalities questioned.

The setting was definitly a major part of the story. I enjoyed learning more about the native people in AK and what they are doing to maintain control of their land and bring in income, despite the internal controversy over it. The Alaskan bush was an excellent place for the female kid (whose name I can't remember and I returned the book the library!) to "come of age"!

Nice book, a good read.

Pictures Posted!

I have finally finished posting my pictures from AK! I have posted 2 slide shows, one of the 1st week and one of the 2nd. I recently added a lot more pictures to week 1 so if you checked right after I posted it, be sure to check it out again. The new pictures are at the end of the old ones, I can't make the slide show save them where I put them. The new pictures start after the one of Mom and Dad's MH being towed. They are in chronological order, just not matched up with the others. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pictures from the 1st week in Alaska


I got home in the middle of the night last night.

Flying out of Anchorage on a clear day is fabulous! We saw McKinley again - that's 6 out of 7 days getting to see McKinley! This time we were above it, but my camera was in overhead bin! We flew down the inside passage and I got some pics of the glaciers and fjords and mountains before the movie started and we put the shades down.

Sunday night I connected with John and we went out to see his airplane! I got the grand tour since a maintance guy had left the door open! I think I saw John taking off on his daily flight on my way to the airport on Mon!

When I got home last night I brought my luggage in and left it open on the floor in the kitchen since most it goes directly to the basement to the washing machine. This morning I picked up the dog at the kennel and brought her home, then went to run some other errands. When I got home this is what I found:

I think someone is happy that I'm back! Her tail is blurry because she is wagging it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Denali and back to Anchorage

Sorry it’s been so long since I updated. We had internet in Denali, however I was very busy. We took the bus ride to Toklat River – about halfway in, walked on the road, went on a ranger hike, and saw the sled dog demo. Denali is an awesome park. It is a hiker and backpacker’s paradise – you can hike anywhere, no trails, and you can get on and off the bus whenever and wherever you want. I didn’t have nearly enough time and can’t wait to come back to hike!

We have seen the mountain for the last 5 days! It was sunny and clear the whole time we were in Denali! That “rain insurance” paid off !!!! It did however dip into the 30’s at night while we were there! We even heard it was into the 20s at one of the campgrounds farther in…Summer is almost over in Denali!

We are back in Anchorage tonight. Tomorrow I return my motor home then I fly home on Mon. I may not update tomorrow but will when I get home.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Denali National Park

We mostly drove today. It was another 150 miles from Talkeenta to Denali NP so we got an early start, I was hoping to be here early in the day so I could do some hiking/walking around the Visitor Center.
The mountain was out this morning!!! I could see it in the rearview mirror as we drove out of Talkeetna! I got some good shots before the clouds swallowed her up again.
The morning’s drive seemed to be a lot of start and stop. First, I needed fuel in my MH – I’d filled up at Fred Myer but it was already down to ½ a tank! Turn out I’d hit the $75 limit for credit card purchase and really didn’t fill up. So we stopped about 15 miles out since we weren’t sure where the next station would be. This highway is very remote and there are few services.

I could see the mountain from the gas station! I took this picture there! Kim…is this McKinley? I’m not sure which peak is which! I was aiming for the tallest one assuming that was it…distance obscures things though.

Immediately after I filled up we came to “Wal-Mikes” an eclectic little store that sells just about everything…think junk antique store and is run by a “Mike” who is a unique character. You really have to see it to fully get it!

Then about an hour later we came upon the south view of Denali Peak overlook – part of Denali State Park. So of course I had to pull off. There was the great view of a smaller mountain that you see above (prob 7 -8,000 ft but compared to 20,000 it’s tiny), but McKinley and her sister peaks were enveloped in clouds. We had lunch at the overlook – the sun was shining and it was very warm! We ended up being there over 2 hours because Mom and Dad ran into a friend they’d met while driving the ALCAN and had to chat, then we ended up making a few “new friends”. I finally just left.

I ended up being pretty far ahead of them and by the time I realized it the radio was out of range and I had no service on my cell phone. I just kept driving figuring they were back there somewhere!

The road is beautiful. There are mountains on all sides, yet the road itself seems to be in a valley so it’s flat. The Alaska Range seemed to be churning up some weather – they were all ensconced in dark rain clouds, yet where I was driving on the Parks Highway it was sunny with high thin clouds or puffy cumulus clouds, no sign of rain at all!

I arrived at Denali and set about making our plans, campground reservations, ranger lead hike sign ups, passport stamps, bus tickets. Turns out mom and dad were just a few miles behind me – the cell phone worked so I was able to call them. We are camping outside the park tonight (hence the pictures…high speed connection), but tomorrow and Friday nights we’ll be at Riley Creek in the Park. I didn't make it to the hike/walk today - doesn't look like we'll have time for that now. I hope to get in some walking/hiking tomorrow and then again on Fri.

Tomorrow we are moving over to the park 1st thing, and then at noon we are riding the shuttle bus to Toklat River. Dad and I plan to hike/walk a bit; mom will probably stay on the bus most of the day.

There won’t be any more high speed connections till I get home. I might not be able to connect tomorrow or Friday either – my cell worked in the park so hopefully the internet card will too.

PS - to those of you dealing with the oppressive heat and humidity on the east's 58 degrees here. I have the heat set to come on in the night. I love it!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Denali - The Great One

I got to spend nearly the whole day with The Mountain, Mt. McKinley, Denali, The Great One. I took over 50 pictures. Since I don't have time to post them all here I'm giving you the overview...Morning in Anchorage, evening in Talkeetna, and sunset in Talkeetna! Enjoy!

The tall peat is Denali, The Great One. The other peaks are part of the Alaska Mts.
This is from Anchorage - Elderberrry Park- around 9:00am, zoomed in.

This is McKinley along with several other peaks, zoomed out a bit. The mts are over 200 miles away. The body of water is the Cook Inlet.

This is all the mountain I was able to fit in the frame. I climbed up on some playground equiptment to get even higher to get the whole thing.

From the Talkeetna Spur Road (I was on foot!) at around 7:30 pm.

Talkeetna Beach area - around 7:45 - 8:00 pm. Note the clouds to the left of the big peak. They weren't there earlier!

Talkeetna Beach - 10:30 pm. Note, no clouds. You can see how much closer I am now to the mountain by looking back at the picture from this morning that has the peak zoomed out a bit and you can see the other three peaks. This picture is not zoomed.

Denali Mountain after sunset - 10:45 ish pm. The dark blueish purpleish shapes at the bottom are more mountains. I have obviously zoomed in here...this may become my new background on my computer!

It really doesn't get much better than this.

A few More Pictures

Again these are in reverse chronological order....

The Coach being towed off of Turnagain Arm.

These puffins are in captivity at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward - they are much easier to photograph that way. These are horned puffins, as opposed to tufted puffins.

Aialik Glacier in Kenai Fjords NP - that's fog above the glacier.

Harbor Seals in Aialik Bay - Kenai Fjords NP. No the picture isn't was that foggy.

Elephant Island off Katchemak Bay near Homer - this was taken from a kayak, in the wind!

The Homer Spit, Katchemak Bay, and the mountains - taken from the overlook just before you go down the hill into Homer.


It's only 3 for now....I have a high speed connection tonight so I'll try and post more - esp my pics of The Mountain and a few of the glaciers and hopefully one of my puffins -trust me this is a microscopic tip of the iceberg! They are in reverse order because I posted them wrong!

Off to watch the sunset over Mt. McKinley!

This is the trail up the mountain to Harding Icefield that dad and I hiked in the rain.

Eagle sitting on the rock at the Homer beach right in front of my motor home.

My little motor home and my parent's "big rig" at Williawaw the 1st night.