Friday, August 19, 2016

Starving For Oxygen

Somewhere on the way up Bierstadt.
I  know it's been a hot minute since I posted last. Update: I'm still alive. I've stopped playing Pokemon Go. I believe I've regained my true identity. 

I'm allowed to mountain bike again. While I can't do any gnarly jumps or downhill tracks until next summer, Caleb and I have been out to Oil Well Flats to ride. I actually traded my mountain bike for a rifle. Not because I'm never going to ride again. That's preposterous. But I'd actually been trying to sell my old Gary Fisher for a while and, well, it's old and none of the real enthusiasts out here wanted that old hunk. But one of Caleb's friends rode it and wanted it, so he gave me a rifle. I don't even know what kind it is. 7mm WSM? We have another mountain bike I've been riding. It's a hard tail, but since I'm only allowed to ride easy trails right now, it's perfect for me. Over the winter Caleb is going to build me a new bike from the ground up so I'll have a sick new ride come next summer when I can rip again. I know he'll make sure to build a super capable bike, so my only request is that it looks cool.

In the mean time, we've taken up the cliche' hobby of climbing 14ers.
At the top of Mt. Sherman.
I'm not 100% sure why we got into this. I think it has to do with me not being able to do anything particularly fun. I couldn't ride, run, climb, or swim, so I took up hiking while Caleb was mountain biking. Then my doctor said I should start carrying a light pack around a few times a week to deal with the sensitivity over my collarbone where I had my surgery. So of course the only logical solution is to climb one of the fifty something mountains over 14,000 ft in the state of Colorado. I think those pain meds the doc gave me must have done permanent damage, cause I actually went through with this. Caleb and I loaded up and took the dogs to Mt. Sherman one weekend.
At the top of Bierstadt, starving for oxygen.
We summitted and I was happy to never do one again. But then Caleb did another one on his own. And I volunteered to do another with him the next weekend. I don't know why. I hated ever minute of going up. Except when we stopped and I got to eat watermelon candies we brought.. Then at the top, for some reason, I thought I was having fun. I think it had to do with the lack of oxygen. For someone who is used to having a healthy supply of oxygen in their lungs, it can make you a little loopy.. And sick. And delusional enough to think you're having fun. But the view is nice, so there's that. The best part though is always getting back to the truck. The dogs get in and pass out and we roll down all the windows, and, hoping they'll have enough energy to bite anyone who tries to steal our stuff, we leave them there. And go get margaritas and beer and the biggest cheat meal we can fit in out stomachs. Because we earned it.

We've only done two mountains so far, but weather
Handies Peak, Colorado. AKA, the baby Fitz Roy.
and mechanic issues on our new jeep permitting, we're going to do another this weekend. Probably Handies. Cause it looks beautiful. And it reminds me of a really tiny version of Mt. Fitz Roy in Patagonia. And while I don't necessarily want to climb Mt. Fitz Roy, I'm going to see it first hand one day. If I ever find myself in South America, I'm going to detour to go see it. I don't care if I'm in French Ghana and I have to hitch hike and figure out a way to make money the whole way. It's gonna happen, y'all.
Mt. Fitz Roy, Chile-Argentina border, Patagonia.

 Anyway. That's all I really have for now. I'll post again next time I pick up a new hobby, break a bone, or win the lottery.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I Must Survive.

28 May 2016
Caleb and I have recently been told about a Demo Day at Angel Fire Bike Park in Angel Fire, New Mexico. We feed our dogs, pack up our mountain bikes and gear, and point the truck south. We've never been to Angel Fire before, nor have we ever been to a bike park like this. We misjudge how long it will take us to get to Angel Fire, it takes a little longer than we would've liked to find the bike park, and find where we buy lift tickets. Since it's already past noon and the lifts will stop mid afternoon, we only buy a two ride pass for each of us. I ride my Gary Fisher with barely enough travel on the front end to avoid breaking it under my own weight. Most of my day is spent on the easiest trail there.. It's basically a fire road with small jumps that are easily avoidable for those who aren't so brave. I am incredibly brave. I net a grand total of twenty-one and three-quarters of an inch of air the whole day. We're invited to stay at the hotel in town with a friend who will be there for the weekend. We have dogs at home who already hate us. We head home.

29 May 2016
We are determined to arrive earlier, get full day passes, and rip up the mountain the entire day. We get an early start, and because we now knew the appropriate locations for parking, signing in, bike rentals, and everything else, we are on the mountain fairly quickly. This time, I'm riding a rental bike. A GT Fury. Caleb is riding an Intense M9 borrowed from a friend. After the lift is stalled due to weather, we finally make it to the top. It's snowing. We look pretty bad ass. We take photos of each other. 

 We quickly descend the mountain. It's cold. It's so cold my fingers have lost all feeling and I can't tell if I'm squeezing the brakes or the handles. It's a sick ride. In this descent alone I  net several feet of air for I am brave.

At the bottom of the mountain I return my rental GT and discover there are no available bikes my size. Caleb decides to ride his GT Sanction Pro while I take the Intense M9 for a rip. We ride a sweet, smooth trail together for a while. Eventually we wind up on a trail called Lower Boogie. Caleb passes me and adjusts to his own pace, leaving me in the dust. I am fine with this.
I am not afraid to ride alone. I catch very little air as most of the trail as been swooping turns. I finally spot a gnarly looking jump. Finally! It was time to get more than one foot of air in a single jump! I hit the jump and immediately regret my decision to hit this jump as fast as I can. I haven't reset the rear suspension for my 130 pound frame. Caleb is 215 pounds and the suspension is still set up for him. I find the rear wheel to be above me, the bike doing a front flip with me at it's center. "Ride it out," I tell myself. The next thing I know, I'm on my back sliding down the back side of the table top and I've allowed my body to go limp. I lie still for a moment. "I shouldn't have hit that jump so fast.." I stand up and walk over to the large, green bike, thinking I will ride a little more slowly down the remainder of the trail. I pick up the big green giant and realize I cannot lift my right arm. I sit on the side of the trail a moment longer and eventually come to the conclusion that I must walk to the base of the mountain. I grab the bike with my left hand and begin to trudge down the mountain. I arrive at the clearing beneath the lift and sit. I begin to search for my cell phone to text Caleb. A bike patrolman arrives to assist me with my injuries. "Are you ok?" he asks. "Yeah. I broke my collarbone." "Do you know your name? What time it is? The date?" I resist the urge to tell him I don't keep track of those things and tell him what he wants to know. He determines I do not have a head injury and removes two triangular bandages from his bag to form a sling for my right arm. A side by side arrives to take me down the mountain. I've made it easy for them since I am on the poor excuse for a road. Before now I hadn't noticed the pain, but every bump on the ride down to the medic's lodge makes me more and more aware of how much I hurt.

I've made it three and a half rides into the summer and my new sport of downhill before I've ruined the remainder of my summer.

Caleb meets me at the medic's lodge where the PA takes a floor scan and tells me with utmost certainty that I will need surgery. They put me in a sling and give me some narcotics as well as muscle relaxers and blanket. I don't think it's cold out, but I can't stop shivering. Caleb and I stop for dinner on our way out of town and I almost ask for his assistance with removing my own pants in the bathroom. God did not make me ambidextrous.

10 June 2016
My surgery is scheduled for today. I've never had a surgery before. I've never even broken a bone before. The surgeon tells me I will wake up in much more pain than I've been in since the break. I'm not looking forward to it. When I wake up I do not notice any pain, I simply know the bracelet on my wrist says I am a fall risk. Someone shows me a photo of an x-ray that I assume is mine. I insist on getting into the truck on my own power. I must prove I am not a fall risk.

12 June 2016
I've worn my hospital gown for two days. I can feel my plate and the screws drilled into my bone. They are ever present in my mind. I hate them, though they allow me to move better. Caleb has been waiting on me hand and foot. Were I a lesser person, I would easily become addicted to these narcotic pain killers. It's like being drunk, only better. But I can't stand being a drooler for so long. I quit taking them within a few days.

20 June 2016
Caleb has returned to work and I don't know what to do with myself. I'm not due back at my job for another week. I practice eating left-handed, but still wind up with food on my shirt at least once a day. I've been playing video games. I don't know who I am anymore.

15 July 2016
I've been back at work for a while now. I'm not longer wearing my sling. I even went running several times last week. My doctor has scolded me for this activity and I must desist. I still need to keep my arm below 90 degrees and cannot lift more than 5 lbs. Come the 22nd my range of motion should return to normal and I may run and ride my bike on fire roads again. The date nears and it excites me, yet the inability to participate in my usual activities drives me to insanity. I download Pokemon Go. My former identity slips further away. I will be fully recovered the first week of September. I debate trying to go into cryosleep until then. Research tells me this is not a feasible solution. I must survive. I can only hope there is enough left of me to recover come September.

I will post again. 

It's Time For A Rant

There's a little something I need to get off my chest.
          People are retarded. We've all seen videos like this where a Hillary supporter is asked about whether they support her tax policies and when they keep saying "yes" the inquirer then lets them know those are actually Trump's policies. Now, I'm not going to say only Hillary supporters are that dumb. I mean, let's be honest, you could pull the exact same trick on Trump supporters. Also, how many random people off the street even know what the Alternative Minimum Tax is? Even if you do know what that is ( it's basically a way to keep people from going through a loop hole to pay fewer taxes. It's been amended over the years  to ensure that the rates keep up with inflation), to know whether or not you support it, you probably want to know if it's being replaced and what with; and even then you probably have to have more than a basic understanding of how the tax system for those people works.
          The point here is that people are stupid enough to say "I support Hillary because it's time for a woman to be in the White House." or "I support Trump because he isn't Hillary." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! No one should care whether our next president has a penis or a vagina, if they're black, white, or green, or how politically correct they are. (If you really want to vote for someone other than Hillary, Trump isn't your only option! There's this wonderful libertarian party with a candidate named Gary Johnson.) You can like those qualities, but they shouldn't be the main reason you vote for that candidate. The main concern that should be in everyone's mind is, "If elected, where will this candidate take us? Will we be better off in four years? What about in eight?" If you begin your answer to those questions with anything remotely close to their race or gender, you're a problem and I pray to God you don't go to the polls this November. Yes, you have the right to vote and you should exercise it. But exercising your right to vote doesn't mean going to the polls and putting an "X" by whoever is a female or isn't Hillary, it's a right our service men and women have fought and died for, so take it seriously, and do YOUR OWN research. And by "your own research" I don't mean watching only Fox News at dinner. No one ever made an informed decision by listening to only one side of an argument, or even an opposing view that you couldn't really hear because people were shouting over and at them . And believe me, Fox News and CNN might invite someone from the other side to be guests for their little discussions, but even if they chose a good representative of the other side, they're so outnumbered and the debate is so unsportsmanlike that you would never know if they had a good argument or not. Honestly, when is the last time you saw a Democrat on Fox News be allowed to engage in a calm debate where their views were respected enough that the other four Fox anchors weren't talking over them and degrading their point of view the whole time?

          "Your own research" means you go on the internet to multiple sources (preferably not big main stream media names) and read about the pros and cons of each candidate. Then when you see that Trump is proposing getting rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax, you look up what that is. Then you look up if and what it's being replaced with (according to his website, it's simply being eliminated and a flat tax rate will be imposed on everyone instead.) Maybe you look up the accusations that Hillary leaked classified documents by handling them improperly. Maybe you decide to read 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff and decide whether you think (based on your even more extensive research of the Secretary of State's position and capabilities) Hillary could have made an effort to save the lives of those men. Or maybe you decided to ignore the evidence that suggests Benghazi was a coordinated attack rather than retaliation to the Innocence of Muslims trailer released on youtube.

          I have faith there are some intelligent, capable people out there who will do their own research on our presidential candidates and come to a logical conclusion on who to vote for - even if they come to a conclusion different than mine.

          ..... But then again, in 2012 I had someone ask me if Syria was in Benghazi and had someone else tell me they wanted Obama to win the election because they wanted free birth control and no gun control.. So my faith in 98% of the US voting population is shot. I'm relying on the other 2% to do their own research, provide logical arguments, and make informed decisions when heading to the polls this year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

March 13th.

On 13 March 2015 some of you will recall I was on Belize's island of Caye Caulker with my friend Dave. It was my very first trip outside the United States, and it proved to be quite eventful. It was a Friday the 13th, the power and running water were out for the whole island. We went snorkeling where I swallowed my fear of open water (and a lot of ocean water). Then I drank a few too many beers to dilute the saltwater, and with the reassurance of Dave and Seb, a British fellow we met at The Split, dove into the ocean to swim the 100 meter split and back. While a storm rolled in. And I nearly drowned in the ocean.

Belize was probably the best trip of my life. I'd been wanting for as long as I could remember to just drop everything on a moment's notice and take a flight to anywhere outside the U.S. and go for an adventure. I may have had a twenty-four hour notice, but it satisfied my need just fine. Much better, in fact, than the month long solo tour in Europe. Because, while my plane ticket to Spain was a one-way ticket, I bought it six weeks in advance. It was like biting into a bitter piece of candy. I loved it, but it wasn't nearly as awesome as sitting on a dock in the Caribbean knowing that only twenty-four hours prior, I'd had no plans to leave the states. It was liberating and I wouldn't trade that experience for any other.

If, while I was sitting on that dock, someone had told me I would be getting married in a year, I wouldn't have believed them. If they showed me some sort of proof, I probably would have cried. At that point in my life nothing sounded better than being single for the rest of my life. The very thought of a relationship almost made me gag. Marriage, for me, has pretty much always sounded like a trap. It was as if, at the wedding ceremony, the priest who married you sucked all the fun out of your life and brain washed you. You began as this fun-loving, adventure having, spontaneous person and were magically transformed into just another suburbian with a white picket fence and HOA fees. You stopped traveling, skydiving, mountain biking, and basically anything else awesome and started mowing the yard on Saturdays and taking long Sunday naps.

Thank God that's not true. I mean, it could be. We haven't had our wedding ceremony yet. The Chaplain very well might put a curse on us and turn us into normal-ass people. But so far, Caleb and I have done quite well to keep adventure a regular part of our lives. We rock climb, ride dirt bikes, go hiking and camping, and even have plans to drive the Pan American in our truck. With the dirt bikes, of course. I'm convinced there's nothing the Chaplain can say on 13 March 2016 that will change the person I was on 13 March 2015 except that I'll be married and I'll have a reliable partner in my adventures. Someone I know is as strong and capable as he is intelligent and adventurous. In two weeks I'll go from being a solo traveler who wakes up and says, "I think I'm going to fly to Ireland today" to someone who, over dinner, says, "Hey, wanna drive to Red Rocks in Vegas next weekend to climb?" or, "Let's go to Germany." And while we may have to limit our overseas travels while we're tied to the Army, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make so I can keep this guy around.

Moral of the story, marriage isn't a trap (probably). Having kids is a whole different story though. Having kids is definitely a trap. Use birth control.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Mothers. Mothers are pests. When you got your first tattoo, your mother was the first to FREAK OUT. When you got arrested for DUI and called her to bail you out, she stood on the other side of the glass and laughed, then walked away without bailing you out so you could learn your lesson a little more thoroughly. When you dated that person in high school who was never going to amount to anything, your mother was the one who told you you were wasting your time. When you didn't do your homework or failed a class your mother was there to ground you until your GPA came up.

There are a lot of important people in your life. Brothers and sisters. Spouses and best friends. Grandparents and cousins. But for those of us who have a good relationship with our mothers, literally nothing can replace that.

Aside from your parents, your siblings are usually the ones who have been around you the most. They've been your partners in crime, blamed you for peeling wallpaper off the bathroom wall, and bet you a Reeses Cup to touch a hot stove for five seconds. They know how to push your buttons. And when you got a DUI and were freaking out that your parents would kill you, you called your big brother to help you pay it off without them finding out. Siblings will be there for you as much as they can. Until you make them mad. Then they'll rat you out to mom and dad and you'll face the firing squad for getting caught with beer at nineteen.

Your siblings are awesome (sometimes). But they're not your mother. Your mother is the one who pulls a wooden spoon out of her back pocket when you and your brother get caught tying fireworks to the cat's tail. She's the one who knows by the look on your face you're not the wallpaper peeling culprit. She won't just bandage your hands when you held your hand on the hot stove for an extra second to make sure you got the Reeses Cup your brother bet you, she'll tell you how stupid you were for doing it. Your siblings may love you, but your mother has done more than love you. She has endured you.

Your mother knows you better than anyone. She may not know your overly complicated sorority girl coffee order like your best friend or significant other does, but she makes up for it in other ways. When you call your mother crying your eyes out about a mid-twenties crisis that's not really a crisis, you don't even have to get your first word out before she starts telling you exactly what you need to hear. That's because she's probably known exactly what you were going to freak out about for a while. And when you find yourself wandering aimlessly around a foreign country, your mother is the one who knows what to say to make sure you don't come home until you've accomplished what you went there to do. Even if you don't know what that something is. Your mother knows your personality so well you don't even need to consult a psychic or a palm reader. She knew when you were eighteen you would marry someone several years older than you. She also knew you weren't getting married until you were at least twenty-four. She knew when you were five you would enjoy jumping out of planes and backpacking solo through Europe as an adult. And when you're teetering on the edge of a big decision, she doesn't just tell you the right decision, she helps you through the decision making process so you can make the decision on your own and move forward with confidence.

Ultimately, your mother is the one who has been your disciplinarian, your shoulder to cry on (even if you don't really cry), and your best source of advice. She's the one who spent your entire life making sure you would grow up to be a capable and independent individual. And for as long as she's around, you won't find anyone to match her.