Monday, September 27, 2010

Eva has pretty long legs

Devin flew down a couple of weeks ago to backpack with me and my little girls. We all went with Gordon and Lily to Turkey Creek hot springs in the Gila Wilderness in southwest New Mexico. Super fun.

I'm hoping Gordon posts a photo of his Gila trout and a video of 9-year-old Lily telling 25-year-old Devin to "step aside!" after he thought for a little too long about the 10-foot cliff jump into the 85-degree, 9-foot pool. And that Devin posts a photo of the tunnel or cliffs or waterfall or windmill or some of the other great scenery we saw. But here's what you get from me:

On the way up, Eva had to hike more than anyone else. Not farther, just for a larger amount of time. She took plenty of breaks, but they were a bit shorter than others'. For instance, we stopped for a while at a nice spot on the river where there were plenty of boulders and enough space between the canyon walls to lounge and play.

After a nice rest and when it was time for us to move on, Eva wanted to watch Gordon fish.

"Sorry Eva, we've got to get going."
"Why, dad? Gordon and Lily aren't going yet."
"Because they have long legs and you have these little short legs. You need a head start."

A couple of hours and about a mile later, Eva and I were plodding along in silence a couple of river bends behind everyone else when she said, "I have pretty long legs, though."
"Compared to what, a two-year-old?"
"Compared to a Daddy Long Leg."

It's true. She does. And Daddy Long Legs have pretty long legs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Karate Kid-ette

Don't tell Jaden Smith, star of the Karate Kid and Will Smith's son. But Eva really identifies with her.

She kept saying, "She hates it there because she keeps getting beat up" or "They're mean to her." And one of us would say, "That's a boy."

A couple of minutes later, she'd say, "She's a fast runner." And one of us would say, "That's actually a boy."

"I call it a girl because of her hair and her voice."

"So Eva, that's not very modest of that girl to be doing Kung Fu without a shirt on, is it?"
"Well, it's because she's sweaty and hot. That's why she took her shirt off."

I bet she called him a girl 25 times during the movie.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Truchas backpack

I went backpacking (solo) a couple of weeks ago while the little girls were at their grandmas' houses.

I hiked 6 miles the first day, at least 16 miles the second day and 14 miles the third day. Started and ended at Santa Barbara Campground. Made it to the top of North Truchas Peak, one of three 13,000-foot peaks in New Mexico.

I saw a herd of elk, two groups of bighorn sheep, several marmots (aka rock chucks) and a few pikas. I didn't even know the pika lived in New Mexico and it's one of my favorite animals.

I'll stop right there and let you think this was the smoothest, most successful backpacking trip I've ever experienced. Any questions?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

That's my thing

Saturday at our friends' apartment swimming pool:

While Eva hit the restroom, Isobel and I tested the hot tub.
I paused at about knee depth -- "Wow! That's hot." -- and looked over at Isobel. She was already up to her neck.

"Isn't it hot?"
"Not really. This is my thing. When I shower, I turn it on this hot. I like hot water. It's just my thing."

About 5 minutes later, Eva was dipping her toes in the water and Isobel was headed back to the pool. A couple of minutes after that, Eva had eased in up to her shins.

"I have to let the water get warm and then get in a little bit more. This is just how I am. I don't know, it's just how I am. Is this how Isobel is?"
"No. Isobel got right in up to her neck and said, 'This is my thing.' "
"Hmm. That's how she is. But this is how I am."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wait! Those are mine, too.

I've never lost anything before, but this winter I lost a couple of, well, four things.

The night before taking the girls skiing earlier this year, I gathered the gear: Coats, hats, gloves, goggles, snow pants, lunches, snacks, ski passes, poles, boots and ... skis?

My newest pair of skis was in the shop, so I had planned to use my old, durable, kinda beat up skis. But they were nowhere to be found. I hadn't used them for three weeks, because we'd been in Utah and I'd left them home. So I asked Bettie to help me think back. She'd last seen them outside, next to the car after our last trip. I had this image of them in plain sight in the back of a pickup in our driveway. Either way, somebody had stolen them right from my driveway!

I rented skis for a couple of weeks before getting my new skis back from the shop. So I took the new ones up to ski with Isobel again. (Really fun, by the way, and both of them are getting pretty good and, most important, having fun at it.) At the end of the day, we returned their gear to the rental shop, made it through the usual end-0f-day meltdown(s), battled our way to the car, slid down some scary roads and got home safely. We brought in our wet stuff to dry and relaxed for the night.

The next morning, we got in the car to go to church and -- "Where are my skis? I didn't bring them in last night, did I?"

No, I didn't. My $1100 setup was still where I'd left it: Leaning up against a ski rack outside the rental shop with a WWE lunch box and some crappy ski poles hanging from the tips. My excuse: After renting for two weeks, I wasn't used to carrying skis back to the car. Add that to the madness of getting two cold, tired girls ready to go and stressing about driving down a steep, windy road in a blizzard and, it wasn't so hard to believe ... right?

I called the resort. They checked the lost and found: No skis had been turned in the day before.

So, and don't tell anyone, I skipped the first half of church to drive back up to the ski resort in a still-worse blizzard to make sure they weren't still where I'd left them: Leaning outside with some crappy ski poles hanging from the tips.

I felt empty from my chest to my toes all the way up there. My backup skis have already been stolen. And now I've left my good skis, you know, outside with a WWE lunch box hanging from their tips. Got to think about it for an

When I finally made it up there -- after spending an extra 25 minutes watching 14 cars give up on the road and turn around, only to slip into a snowbank, get pushed out and finally slide their way back to Santa Fe -- I looked at the rack outside the rental shop: No WWE lunch box, and no skis like mine. They'd already told me they weren't in the lost and found, but I had to double-check. I knocked on the door, went in, and said, "I left some Dynafit Manaslu skis leaning up ... with a WWE lunch box hanging from the tips yesterday. ... and there they are." He checked and verified that they had been turned in the day before. And then I said, "Wait! Those are mine, too."

Apparently, the guy who stole my old skis out of my driveway had skied on them at Ski Santa Fe and left them there! (Because there is no way I left TWO pairs of skis at the same ski resort within a month. And definitely no way I could have left that first pair when I didn't have the I-guess-I-got-used-to-renting excuse. And certainly no way I wouldn't have noticed they were even gone for three solid weeks.)

So now me and my four skis are happily reunited. And all I lost were the crappy ski poles. Probably the same serial thief that took my skis.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two fuzzy dogs

"Dad. Where are we going?"
"We have to take this van back."
"I thought you said we were renting it."
"Nope. It's Sara Hotchkiss' van."
"We're going to her house?"
"Nope. To her work."
"Why can't we go to her house?"
"Because my motorcycle is at her work . . . hold on, just let me tell you what happened."

I had a dentist appointment that day. Isobel went to school. Bettie went to work. Eva went to a friend's house, for an hour. So I rode my little Trail 110 to the dentist. Well, most of the way to the dentist. I pushed it the last couple of blocks, after it got a flat tire. I didn't have a repair kit with me or anything, so after the dentist appointment, I walked about a mile to a tire shop, which happens to be owned by a lady in our ward.

I wanted some Fix-A-Flat, but they didn't have any. Sara suggested I try a nearby gas station, and if they didn't have any, she could order it from her parts supplier. They didn't have any, so I walked back (a mile) and pushed my bike (a mile, uphill both ways, by the way) back to the tire shop. I thought I might as well just get the tire fixed as wait for Fix-A-Flat and hope just hope it would work.

When I got there, Sara was gone for a minute, the other guy I'd talked to was on the phone and the Service Manager said, "We don't work on motorcycles." So it was back to the Fix-A-Flat. I waited for the other guy and he ordered it. 20 minutes, he said. I'd now been gone an hour longer than I planned, so I called and warned the babysitter, who said I had three hours or so before she needed to pick her kids up from school. No problem.

After an hour of National Geographic reading, Sara apologized and said the parts guy was on the way. After another hour, she was getting annoyed with the parts guy, who she had just heard still had seven stops to make. Finally, it got there. So we put it in, filled the tire up with air and ... 30 seconds later it was flat as ever.

That's when she offered to let me borrow her van. I drove home, picked up Eva and then Isobel, and then waited for Bettie to get home from her faraway visits so we'd have a ride back when we dropped off the van. In the meantime, Sara talked the Service Manager into letting somebody try to patch the tire. And they got it done.

So on the way over to pick up my bike, Isobel started peppering me with questions, and I finally just told her the whole story, and it ended like this:

"Now I'm going to drop the van back off at Sara's tire shop. We're going to walk over to your mom's work. She's going to drive you guys home. And I'm going to ride my bike home."

And after all that, Isobel said, "Dad, since you mentioned the Hotchkiss family ... Can we go over to their house? They have a trampoline, and two fuzzy dogs."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Canyonlands Scary Fun

Since we got home from a five-day trip to the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park, Isobel has been telling everyone, "I'm not supposed to say the c-word, the a-word, the d-word or the k-word."

C stands for "chICKeeeen" which she said randomly dozens of times a day, even after it was banned on Day One, a 7-hour car ride from Santa Fe to Canyonlands.

A is for "ain't." As in, "Ain't ain't a word and you ain't supposed to say it. Say ain't five times and you ain't going to heaven." I said that to her, but it didn't help. (She's pretty quick; it took me a few times hearing that phrase before I realized there were five ain'ts in it. Not her. One time.)

D and K are for "die" and "kill." As in, "Ohno, we're gonna die" as I'm gripping the steering wheel and wondering if I'm going to get the car up this next series of small rock steps (small rock steps are all it can handle); and "That cliff's gonna kill us!" as we bounce up a rocky hill on a road a couple of feet wider than the car. As a poor-to-mediocre 4WD driver, I can tell you, that helps.


Well I ain't chicken. Except sometimes when I think my little girls might die or get killed, and that if they do it'll be entirely my fault.

On day two, we bounced up a, um, better dirt road to the boundary of the national park, got out and started looking for a way to walk to the top of one of the endless and nearly impenetrable plateaus just inside the border of the park. There's a string of canyons there, all bounded by great slabs of redrock that rise 200 vertical feet in about 30 horizontal feet. We followed dry streambeds and slickrock to the base, then followed the only sequence of cracks, basins and inclines we could find that led all the way to the top without stopping us at a 10- or 30-foot wall.

At the top it was much roomier. There was plenty of room, for instance, for Eva to run. This is the little girl who, the day before, just a few minutes after we got out of the car, cried, "I tripped aGAIN! That's three times. Dad, do you have a Band-aid?" Now, the top was pretty wide in spots. In other spots there wasn't a whole lot of room between our path and a hundred-foot drop-crunch-slide-drop.

So I gave them a variation on the speech that they always get: "OK. Girls. Listen. This is a fun place. But it's also kind of a scary place. You have to be careful up here. And you have to listen to me. If I stay stop, you stop. OK?"
And Isobel said, "Yeah, it's a national park. And the park part means fun. Because parks are fun."
Then Eva, watching carefully to see if she was right, added, "And national means . . . scary . . . or something."

P.S. I can't begin to describe how beautiful the arches and caverns and pits and small domes and twisting pour-offs and empty pools and endless cliffs-and-canyons were in the Davis Canyon area. So I'll let Devin, who's been around a bit, tell you. After wandering around on the top of that slab and meditating on the subject for a few hours, he stopped and said, "I'm trying to think if I've been anywhere cooler than this."

There you go. Davis Canyon in scary fun Canyonlands National Park.