Thursday, June 30, 2011

If you're on Facebook

Would you take about 3 seconds while you're bumming around online to vote for my photo in a contest? It's a really awesome photo, but you can vote for others if you like.

A day in NYC

Took a grueling 90-minute train to NYC yesterday. For the record, I don't <3 the big, crowded, noisy, stinky, smoky apple. But we had fun. Saw the Statue of Liberty, NY Public Library, Central Park, FAO Schwarz, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, and Spiderman on Broadway.

Statue of Liberty

Times Square

Rockefeller Plaza

St. Pat's


FAO Schwarz

Hello, horse!

Central Park

We saw a bicyclist nearly run over by a taxi, two horrible M-to-F trannies in Central Park, a man on the corner covered in rats, and a man with a crazy sign proclaiming, "Hindu men are socialized to have sex with children," among other crazy things.

Chrysler Building

NY Public Library


Spiderman on Broadway was as crazy awful as I expected. I really enjoyed everything about it except the songs. They were really terrible songs. But the artistic director is a genius—costuming and sets were fantastic! And Spiderman flying around on wires just above the audience's heads. It was fun. And on the way back to the train station, we enjoyed proper NY street pizza—possibly my favorite thing of the day.

Photo Prizes

I am officially a prizewinning photographer. I stumbled across the Web site, which is attempting to be a serious news-site but so far has a surprising overabundance of low-quality writers. However, it does award daily cash prizes to the top 3 articles, and the top photos and cartoon of the day. Three of my first 11 photo submissions are winners!

Here they are:

I'm pretty excited about this and going to try to submit some articles in the near future. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yampa River Whitewater Rafting

My folks got a permit to raft the Yampa River in Colorado from June 16 to 19, a rare opportunity with about a 1 in 90 shot of getting the permit. The waters ran outrageously high due to a combination of late spring rains and a long winter creating late snow runoff. It was 19,000 cfs (cubic feet per second, a measure of volume, speed, and intensity of the river) at the put-in and 28,000 cfs at the take-out, with the average for a normal flow (aside from this freaky month) being between 5,000 and 7,000 cfs.

The first and last days were rainy, windy, and wicked cold. The middle 2 were great, though.

 (Me and my dad and stepmom)

We had a group of 18 people, including 6 children ages 4 to 12, among 6 rafts, a catamaran, and a pair of inflatable kayaks. We spent about 3 hours a day on the river then pulled in to make camp each night.

This is my video of the Warm Springs rapids, one of the 10 greatest drops in the country, notorious for flipping rafts, a class 3 or 4 out of 5 when the water is at normal levels.

We tied up the little kayaks for this one, had the youngest kids and a few moms walk through on foot, and everyone made it through safely. Though one oarsman flipped off the back of his boat and managed to hold on until his wife noticed and pulled him back on below the rapids. This was his first trip rowing on his own. (Here's a great video of other rafters flipping on Maytag, so named because you go 'round and 'round if you get stuck below it.)

On the third day, we stopped at Jones Hole campsite for a 1.5-mile hike along the clearest little river, through beautiful canyons, and by stunning prairie flowers and grasses to the "Butt Dam." A natural spring feeds into the river, creating a waterfall you can hike to and climb up. The kids sit at the top to block the water while someone crazy stands below waiting for them to release a deluge of icy cold water. No one can stand it for more than about 20 seconds.

The fourth day was really scary because the water was so high with 15- to 25-foot rollers, or waves, continuing for a long stretch. The same boat I mentioned above flipped, but Dave and Lenette both held on until Dan managed to row close enough to pull them on his boat along with his wife and 3 little boys. The water was so rough that Dave just had to hold on to his overturned raft while Dan tried to navigate as best he could with a crowded boat and the one trailing.

Cody was able to pull his boat close enough for Vanessa and Boschar to leap on the overturned raft and surf the afore-mentioned 20-foot waves in the rain. They pulled the ropes out but failed on the first attempt to flip the raft and fell in the water. Vanessa hauled herself right back on it and helped pull Boschar up, too. Can you imagine pulling yourself up on the slippery bottom side of a raft? She used to throw hammer in college athletics.

They stood up again, grabbed the ropes, braced for the second attempt, and leaned back to pull the raft over, using their bodies as counterweights. It went over and we all cheered. Dan jumped off the oars of his boat, his kids calling out, "Daddy, come back! We don't want to flip!" because there was no one else who could row it with Dave and Lenette still being too shaken from their swim. He grabbed Vanessa and Boschar, hurled them up over the side of the empty raft, and they rowed it to the nearest shore, later recounting that Dan nearly threw them all the way over the raft. And the rapids hardly let up for even a minute through this whole ordeal.

Once ashore, everyone regrouped, ate a bit and tried to warm up, then reloaded on their original rafts to push through the last 45 minutes until the take-out. It was an amazing rescue to watch, probably the highlight of the trip, and I wished my camera had any battery left by that point.

The dads said they all had a fantastic Fathers' Day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting Down & Dirty

Sunday, June 5 I got up at 4:30 AM to drive an hour to run the Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run at Cedar Hill Park with my friend, Dan. It was a 5k (3.12 mi) run with military style obstacles every half mile or so. Compared to the Warrior Dash in April, this one had fewer obstacles and a lot more running, fewer participants, costumes, waves, and photographers. The really cool thing was the Texas State Guard acted as volunteers to run everything and supervise throughout the course, cheering and pushing us on. One called out orders as we ran by, shouting, "I don't hear you laughing. Now laugh!"

The obstacles included a low crawl under a net about a foot off the ground through freshly cut prairie grasses that destroyed my shins and forearms, a tunnel crawl, cargo net climb, wall hurdles, ladder wall climb, 2 mud pits, 3 water crossings, and a patch of evil called the "slippery mountain." It was a smooth, flat wall at a sharp incline, soaped up, and you had to pull yourself up a rope—no knees or feet to help. *I* struggled. But I did it! Because I'm awesome. And my arms were too sore the next day to push open doors or push the boyfriend off me when he tried to tickle me, of which he took full advantage to torture me relentlessly.

(This is not me. I was not smiling.)

There's not a chance in hell I'd pay for these crappy over-exposed photos. I can't believe these are "professional" photogs. Ugh.

We both finished 37th in our age groups (that's the top 3rd for me), and if the registration Web site had sucked less, I might have known about the barefoot category, in which I would have placed 2nd at 44:26. Toe shoes are awesome (except on gravel).

At the end, we received cool pewter-ish dog tags with the event name on them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

American food rocks

I've been home 2 months and put on nearly 10 pounds. I'm not happy with this, nor am I particularly surprised or upset by it. My clothes still fit and I still look fine. Which makes it that much harder to kick my butt back into shape. Also being with family and friends who dine out daily and eat lots of sweets is far too enjoyable.

So where do you find motivation when you just can't feel guilty about food or ashamed of your body?

I've never been able to bring myself to diet; it just makes me angry. So I've resolved to eat more fruit and drink more water—it's a good place to start. And I'm taking advantage of being in SLC, Utah, at an elevation of more than 4,000 ft (compared to 750 ft back home), to take short runs every day just to reap the benefits when I get back home. (Breathing has always been the hardest part of running for me.) :) The weather is freaking fantastic with highs of 70 degrees and clear skies, and the dogs* like to run with me, so it's been fun so far. Painful to breathe, but otherwise fun.

*My folks have 2 dogs, and only one of them likes running. The other accused me of trying to give him a heart attack today. It's not my fault he's a chunky old guy, and he knows the way home and could quit at anytime. I'm just sayin'...

Today I ran 2.3 miles in 30 minutes, purposefully slow just to work on breathing. Yay me!