Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dinner at My House

The kids were unusually wild at the table.  Even before getting the table set there had been two fights and everyone fussing.  Brenna and I looked at each other with quite a few eye rolls, and I lofted up a suggestion that we eat somewhere else…like in the basement away from the kids.

As dinner got started, the kids weren't eating much and talking and fussing more.  As I attempted several tactics at gaining control of the kids behavior (nice suggestions, sour looks, corrective comments, etc., all ineffectual at best, I realized Brenna is better at handling kids for sure.  I think that Brenna and I should come to the dinner table with a black and white jersey and several yellow flags and a whistle sometimes.

Here are some of the heinous behaviors that went on at dinner:

  • Someone asked, "Would a T-Rex use a fork like this?"  Promptly dropping the fully loaded fork.
  • Bryce tried to use the Force ala Star Wars to get the apple sauce by pointing his had at it and looking like he was straining really hard.
  • Aiden actually used the force…and a "may I have the applesauce?" question that worked.  His success then generated something of an "excessive celebration" penalty worthy touchdown dance.
  • A game of squirrell random trivia replete with stunning tidbits of knowledge like, squirrells eat nuts, squirrels sleep in trees, squirrells have "poofy tails", and they look bad when flat on the road.
  • Bryce breaking into a Broadway musical solo that basically (and noisly) expanded on the theme that his brother is smelly.
  • Aiden actually being smelly.
  • Ansley and Bryce pushing on each other and then telling on the other one with greater and greater exadgerations on what actually happened.  
  • Complementing Brenna's cooking by saying that they loved the, "Soda".  Which, by the way, the kids didn't even have…sooo…what's that say?
  • A thoroughly frustrated Brenna pulled out a list of Do's and Dont's at dinner for etiquette purposes and the kids basically did whatever she said not to do.  Loudly and with great vigor.
  • I couldn't stop laughing so I had to leave the table early and willl sneak back in there later and clean up to make up for leaving my poor wife with the screaming hordes.

Maybe next time the parents can keep the dinner kids' behavior at a more normal level.  Whatever normal is…

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Consciousness, Stream thereof…

I was sitting at lunch today and thought that I should write something different.  The Super Villain portion of the story has roots in a performance I heard on NPR the other evening while driving home from Texas.  I modified it quite a bit since I couldn't remember all of it and other parts wouldn't work at all.  I also tried to find the performer or author to give some credit, but I couldn't find reference to this anywhere.  Thanks to whomever did the Super Villains aren't always the bad guys story on NPR.
I read this to my wife and kids and the kids laughed.  Especially at the Canadian goose comment, but Brenna just said my brain was all over the place.  I thought it wasn't a bad little bit of work for a lunch hour, and I suppose she's right about the cacophony of thoughts that clang through my gray matter.  My brain works like this and I'm pretty used to it after 40+ years.  I hope you like it, and if you don't, fine.  If you do, are there any other topics for these two characters to explore? goes nothing... 

Sometimes Sal, a nickname that he really didn’t want to explain again to another questioning stranger, would sit around his room and have relatively deep conversations with his younger brother.  As deep as a 15 year old yearning for a driver’s license and a 9 year old brother could have that is.  
This younger brother had recently taken to just wandering into Sal’s room in the evening hours after everyone had gone to bed without knocking, which, unfortunately, had caused one uncomfortable moment as Sal hurriedly re-hid the magazines he normally kept hidden under the mattress hoping that his sibling hadn’t noticed the questionable subject matter these coveted magazines covered.  
The brother, was fondly called Mick-ums, or micky-boo or micky bear (MB for short).  There are quite a number of odd names that parents think are cute but wear off as one gets older – or should wear off.  MB seemed to be the current name around the house which was fine by him.  MB, thought it was much less embarrassing to be called by initials in front of his friends.  Although his Mom would still give what he and Sal both called “Ninja Kisses” by sneaking up on him and kissing his head when his friends were around, so having his parents potentially dropping the Micky-bear name was always a bit of a worry in social settings.
This evening, fortunately, had no awkward moment as MB walked in wearing his usual orange sleep shirt and Official NFL licensed pajama bottoms.  Sal noticed MB’s shirt was on backwards for a change and wasn’t quite sure if he had just done it to be different or if it was an honest-to-gosh-I-got-dressed-in-the-dark kind of mistake.  
Everybody has moments like that, right?  Sal had even seen his dad walking bleary-eyed through the kitchen one morning with his shirt on backwards and inside out as he mumbled about being out of coffee.  
MB plopped down, squishing into the bean bag chair in the corner of the room.  The chair sighed and spewed a few of those little Styrofoam balls through a small hole made by a poorly considered toss of the clandestine throwing star that Sal also kept stashed between his mattresses.  Sal watched the little geyser of bean bag chair stuffing settle onto the carpet.
“Super Man is good right?” asked MB.
It was an odd a question, but no more so than normal in their evening talks, Sal thought.
“I heard a story on NPR about how this guy, a Super Villain, had split dimensions into smaller and smaller layers in his Super Laboratory.  In one dimension he discovered, and then sorta somehow loaded, God or the Devil into a gun.  I guess the Super Villain wasn’t sure which one actually was in the gun, but by the end of the story it doesn't really matter."
Sal also thought that his 9 year old brother was thinking “Waaaay above his pay grade” as his Dad would say.
“The Super Villain waited, after blowing up an entire office park or something, for Super Man to come and arrest him. So when Super Man arrived and announced, “You are going to jail for a very long time.” the Super Villain went along quietly.  
When Super Man had hauled him under his arm into the air, the Super Villain whispered (he knew he could whisper even over the shrieking wind because Super Man has that Super Hearing thing).  He whispered, “I have something for you.” and proceed to shoot Super Man right between the eyes with the God or Devil loaded gun.”  
MB paused for a second to think before continuing the story.  “As a result of the shot and the release of, uh, I think they called it, a concentrated but questionable deity, they were both transported into a quiet space where they were no longer flying.  No movement.  No stars.  Not hot.  Not cold.  Just black.  Black and a voice.  A voice with a question for Super Man.  God/Devil asked, “If you could save all of Mankind by sacrificing yourself. Right here.  Right now.  Would you?”  “Or”, the voice asked, “Would you take the knowledge that all of Mankind will destroy itself and live the rest of your life with them on Earth as a hero?”  
“Super Man”, MB said, “In the story, Superman responded with one word.”
Sal, laid back on his bed with a fat pillow under his head and pondered this bit of random NPR conveyed creativity for a moment, and asked.  “MB, What are you listening to NPR for anyway?”  “You’re nine and I don’t know of anybody even my age that listens to NPR.  What’s up with that? Seriously, if anyone found out, you would be like marked for death or something.”  
MB replied, still honestly waiting on an answer to his question about Super Man, “It was This American Life or something.  It’s cool, Sal.  They tell stories and stuff.  Though, it is kinda weird though sometimes.”  
Sal, knowing he wasn’t going to bother answering his brother’s Super Man question and seriously wondering whether or not he should surreptitiously try listening to NPR, said.  “It sounds like it’s kinda weird all the time, MB.”  Then laughing, “It’s fitting for a kid like you though.”  
MB threw some of the Styrofoam beads from the chair at Sal but they didn’t get anywhere close and many just stuck to his fingers.
Sal, seeing his brother’s annoyance offered. “Ok, MB, flying or mind control?”
“What?” asked MB.
“You heard me.  You know.  Superpowers.  Flying or Mind Control?  You’re the one that came in here talking about Super Man and a God/Devil loaded gun.” Sal said while staring at some paint bubbles on the ceiling that might be the beginnings of a roof leak that he should probably tell his dad about.
MB, realizing that Sal wasn’t going to entertain him with an answer on Super Man, said “Flying.  Totally Flying.  Who wouldn’t want to fly?”
“Me.” Said Sal.  “I mean, flying’s cool and would possibly be good in some cases, but think about it.  What couldn’t you do with mind control?  And I don’t just mean stuff like Obi-Wan waving his hand and saying, “These aren’t the droids you are looking for. Move along.”  type of stuff.”  
MB had followed his brother’s gaze and was looking at the paint bubbles too now.  Sal continued, “Look, flying might get you from one place to another in a hurry, but you have to worry about frostbite at high altitudes and bugs in your eyes or worse at lower levels.  You know, worse like flying into a flock of those hideous poop machine Canadian Geese.  Mind control gives you everything.  You can control everything!  Invisibility? - Got it.  I just make people I’m around not notice me.  Telekinetics? - Got it.  I just get that person to move whatever I wanted moved or unlock whatever door I might need.”  
MB said, “That’s still not a real power where people can see you and know you are really something different.  Something special.”  
Sal, thinking how to relate his power of choice to MB’s visible super power comment, “Flying…  Here’s my flying power.  Walk into the airport.  “Captain, I need a ride to Name-a-place NOW."  And poof Flying…Got it. There’s a ton of responsibility with it though.  You had better be just about incorruptible to handle the responsibility of mind control.” 
Sal Yawning and still talking. “Yaaa-ooou could end world wars by getting on TV or something and just telling everyone to go home.  But you could also really become like a dictator of the world as well.”
MB closed his eyes sleepily on the bean bag chair and said, “I’d still pick flying power.  I could go anywhere without anybody’s help and people would all know me.  I’d totally rock the NFL being able to fly over all the players and get a touchdown every time.”  
Sal joked, “There’s probably a rule against flying in football somewhere.”  
MB, “Nah.  There’s not ‘cause nobody can fly yet.”  
Sal, “Mind control would let me just make all the guys miss on the tackles.  Same result but more subtle so the rule people wouldn’t have to change anything."  Sal raising his arms but his brother wasn't looking. 
MB, “Either way…we’d be rich.”  
“Too True.” Said Sal…

Friday, September 20, 2013

Could it be worth it?

Yeah, I'm a 40 year old guy that will never afford to participate in proper motor racing, but like any guy (40 or otherwise) I like to dream about it.  I also, like many people, play the Forza 4 Video game on my Xbox 360.  I say that, but as of this week, I had to send my console off to the unknown lands of the Microsoft Service Department to get it to work again...  I know I didn't play it that much...

Naturally, Microsoft has waited until I have spent quite a bit of money building up the car packs and other assorted goodies (sold separately) for my Forza 4 game before announcing the second coming...

Queue the angelic choirs now...

I'm not going to geek out on gaming systems, but I know that the new Forza 5 game, that will be released along with this new monolithic Xbox, is well...suposedly just slightly better.

Of course, my head (and my wallet) say there is no way it's worth buying a console and a slew of new new games when I have a perfectly fine Xbox 360.  (I assume it will be "perfectly fine" when it's back from the shop that is.)

But videos like these?

By the way, as I was drooling over, er, watching the last video, I noticed some turns I recognized.  It's the local track where I have actually rocketed around on my motorcycle.  (Ok, "rocketed" is a relative statement there compared to some).  Barber Motorsports - A great place to drive fast...

I'm pulling away - not holding up everyone on the VFR.  I promise...

Now if Barber were on Forza 5 - I'm pretty sure, this question on whether it would be worth the money would not really be a question...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A heck of a story...

I found myself standing in a bike shop again, of all places, with a helmet in hand.   Something I had decided on the side of a trail (quite colorfully I might add) that I would never do again.

The manager had a puzzled look on his face as I hesitantly put my purchase on the counter.  Perhaps I was telegraphing my conflicting thoughts on the moment a bit more overtly than I had intended.  In the end, I handed him my credit card, signed the flimsy slip of paper, and took my bulky purchase of a new Giro helmet under my arm, and squinting in the summer sunlight, walked through the door into the humid Alabama air.

Insert cheesy rewind visual here--back to the morning of April 21st.

I stepped on the scale this morning and was down to race weight.  I felt fast.  I felt strong.  I felt like this season was going to be the best ever.  My riding workouts were getting easier by the week and I felt that I would be strong enough to really do some damage at whatever I entered this season.  Being a 40 year old guy with three kids and a job, whatever I entered would probably be one of the last strong competitive seasons I could get a hold of.  I had a big hairy goal of winning my division of the Oak Mountain Bump and Grind this year.  I know I'm not a professional and really not all that fast in the overall, but I had some speed and strength.  I had placed second in my age group the year before, and realized if I rode at the edge of throwing up for just a little longer on the climb, I might be able to pull off a win.  As long as the dude with the tree trunk legs didn't show up again...

Seriously, the guy who won was 90% leg...

It was a spring day, one of those clear days where the sky is really deep blue and the humidity of the deep south hasn't set in yet for the duration of the summer.  I had the gigantic orange Niner bike on the back of the truck and the family and I went to early Mass at OLV, which has the added benefit of being about 10 minutes from the parking lot of the Oak Mountain State Park where I planned to ride.

I think back on the irony of my conversation with Brenna as we left church.  Something to the effect of "I can't crash anymore; it's just too hard on me.  I'll be careful, but I'm totally riding the downhill section of the loop today!"  Giddy like a kid as I usually was when thinking of bombing over the drops and around the turns.  She just rolled her eyes like most of the times when I get excited about riding that bike.

We parted ways with a quick smooch that made the kids say "Eeew! Mom! Dad!", and I said I'd be back in a couple of hours since it would take me about 90 minutes to finish the loop.

The ride itself was going well.  It was cool and dry.  The trails were solid enough that your wheels weren't sliding all around in dust, but it wasn't the normal summer tacky trail where you would either confidently stick through any angle of a turn or would find a puddle from the recent rains that would cover you in muck.  I ground up the double track that led to the Lightening trail, sweat dripping on the Niner slogan printed on the top tube - PEDAL D*MN IT! I road out the narrow bridge funnel that weeds the people out that really don't have the skills to be on the trail.  Then I dropped into the flow of the hills and table top jumps with a yell and a grin.  The wind rushing.  The gears clicking.  Wheels rumbling over the terrain.

I rounded a burmed turn pedaling as fast as I could, grin still planted firmly on my face.  Had I died at that moment, it would have been an effort for the mortician to make me look like I wasn't enjoying myself even in death.  As I came off the turn, I realized I had forgotten a quick steep ramp in the trail.  I was going much to fast for it.  I hit the brakes as hard as I could as I climbed the face of the jump.  It was already over.  The suspension on the bike compressed and as I came over the top, the bike was thrown forward violently into the air.  I landed and rode the front wheel down the face of the jump for a moment and then went over the bars.

I hit hard.

First the right arm, out to catch myself, crunched as it broke, and I rolled to the left and felt the hit on my head and left shoulder.  The air went out of my lungs and the pieces of helmet flew around.  I sat up in the cloud of dust knowing I had broken my arm.  I had broken my leg just 15 months earlier and had plates removed in surgery just 2 months before that ride.  I howled into the woods.  "NO!  I CAN'T HAVE DONE THIS AGAIN!"  I was on my own in the woods on a Sunday morning.  Not many people would be by to help, and I had a way to go.  I kicked the Niner off the trail so nobody else would hit it coming over the rise, and I pushed off with my left arm to try to get up.  My shoulder collapsed awkwardly to my cheek, and what I discovered to be a compound fracture of my collar bone made my situation a touch more complicated.  I was stuck, alone on a steep winding downhill trail, miles from my car, and I couldn't use my arms.  I rolled and contorted myself to get to my knees and managed to stand.  In the cloud of pain and possibly a few tears (not that I would admit it), I started to walk downhill with my arms crossed in across my chest to keep them from shifting the bones.  I walked, searching for the main trail, where I might find a passing rider to help me.

I wandered off the trail for a while to avoid the steep sections where I might slip and fall again.  Being that I couldn't catch myself if I slipped made this a pretty wise choice I thought.  I kept the trail in sight as I walked to avoid becoming disoriented and lost in my state.  After a time, I started yelling "HELP" into the forest.  As much as I wanted to - and I tried mind you - I didn't sound manly at all.  I just was hoping somebody would come and help get me off the trail.  I luckily ran into a husband and wife riding at the exit of the downhill onto the main trail.  I had no idea who they were, but they stopped and called 911 for me.  The husband left his bike and helped me hike the next half mile or so to the double track where a ranger could get a truck to get me.  His wife raced ahead to reach and direct anyone coming.

The end of the double track trail was a flashing parade of red and white strobe lights.  A pumper fire truck (Why? I'm hot and all but my abs aren't what they used to be...) and an ambulance had come to get my miserable body out of the wilderness and into some hideous hospital.  I love doctors and nurses.  They are possibly the most wonderful people in the world, but I hate hospitals.  They stink of disinfectants, sickness, and pain.  There's something deep in the primitive portion of your brain that tells you to avoid places that smell like that.  I should try to listen to what it tells me more often.

Funny side note.  The paramedic nurse that helped get me stabilized was a skydiver and we talked about that and how much safer it was than cycling.  I only broke an arm in a decade and 740 skydives...

As they were cutting off my CamelBak that I got for my Hurricane, Utah trips; gloves that I picked up riding in Moab, my classic Motorola team jersey that my uncle gave me, my helmet was taken off and broken pieces of it fell to the floor of the ambulance.  A load of memories of my days riding were quickly becoming the last events rather than just a few in a long line of expected plans. The foam was crushed in a perfect circle that protected my skull.  I had hit a rock that destroyed the outside shell and I do believe that the Giro saved me from a severe skull fracture now that I look at the damage.

I never planned to ride again.  I just can't ride without breaking myself.

Which leads back to the start of this post.  The thoughts are still fresh, the pain in my arm and shoulder that are still quite evident when I move, and the fact I was standing there with a new helmet - unsure...

Wanting, if not quite ready yet...

To ride again.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Around the World on a Bike

I rolled past an interesting mileage marker today.  I have spent enough time on a bicycle to have ridden around this amazing little blue planet, and all these miles have been covered in little loops that didn't actually take me anywhere at all.  How odd an activity to enjoy now that I think of it like that.

I hadn't had this as a goal or anything, and I personally know people who cover this kind of distance in a matter of a couple of years vs the 10 it took me, so I know it's really not a big deal, but yet I'm spending some time blabbering about it anyway.

It's my blog, pfft...

Back to the point.  Yes, I know I tend to wander into a stream of consciousness type of writing instead of efficiently getting to the point of the post.

You're welcome.

I noticed the number coming up in my workout Excel log that I built to track my mileage over the years.  I'm a geek...I know it, but recording this sort of thing for years on end seems interesting to me, and it certainly has recorded how much I have ridden and how my weight has actually not gone down during the process... Heh heh... Perhaps sitting on my duff for a year because I can't stay upright on snow skis without creating a second joint in one leg had something to do with my current physical shape!

There I go once more...back to the point...again...  *sigh*

I had only 11 miles to ride to reach 24,901 miles since I had started riding bikes regularly.   (The circumference of the planet at the equator, since the Earth is fattest there)

I had planned a magnificent Timewaster Studio video production to mark the moment.  Replete with panning shots of beautiful vistas at dawn, sun glinting through green spring leaves as I climbed the local hills, rocks and trees flashing by as I pedaled along the know cool kind of images that would be fitting to record such a random mileage moment.

Instead, Mother Nature gave me a 50 degree day, overcast with a 30% chance of rain.  Which proved, much to my chagrin, to actually be 100% as I rolled out of the garage, and thereafter became a deluge before the ride was over.

Soooo, instead of beautiful footage of the ride and great photos of yours truly looking knowingly into the distance over mountaintops...I got these.

Yep...30% chance...

Well, I'm here. I guess I'll go anyway...

The ride itself was fun.  I crashed once because of wet roots, but managed to land on my feet.  Too bad I didn't get that on video.  But, by the time I hit the mileage "moment", I was completely soaked and the trails had degraded into puddles of standing water.  Here is my photo of the moment, and it didn't last long because I got cold really quickly.  Without the effort of riding, I was woefully under dressed for the conditions.

Wow...I look old these days.  I guess it's better than not aging anymore though!

Speaking of getting cold (not old), there is a tenuous balance in endurance sports between overheating and getting cold, and people are always trying to find that balance.  If you are working hard, you can be out in riding gear that most people would never wear for the conditions, but you aren't able to vary from that effort level much at all without experiencing some discomfort.

Oh, looky...I've gone off on another tangent.

I'll leave you with a few random tidbits from my time on the bike related to the miles I have covered.

As of today:
  • 24,903 miles
  • 1,570 rides
  • 10 Years
  • 1 collar bone (now augmented by a 5" plate and 7 screws)
  • 4.3 bazillion tire tubes
  • 2,300x my weight in Gatorade and lousy tasting energy gels and Powerbars.
  • 1,100 Chipotle Burritos - (1000 cal/burrito and 700 cal/hour average workout output)   
Seriously, who doesn't do the Burritos burned per hour calculation?  Mmmm...burritos...
  • Approximately 1.9% of my total waking life
  • I'm not going to try to calculate the gallons of sweat...  You're welcome...again.
  • 3 Race Wins, 1 2nd place, 7 top ten, and a whole lot of middle-of-the-pack.
  • Untold amounts of patience from my loving wife...
See you on the trails!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Indy at Barber Motorsports

One of the best things about living in Birmingham, that most people wouldn't think of when talking about the town, is that there is a fantastic motor sports track 20 minutes from my house.  We make a run out to the place a few times a year to take in some howling motors of various types. Last weekend we had the pleasure of the Honda Indycar race coming to town. 

My parents were in town from Tyler, Texas and we all ventured out into a lovely spring day.  The grass wasn't as green this year as in years past.  For some reason, it seems to have been cool and the dormant grass hadn't come alive yet, but the trees certainly had.  There were clouds of yellow blanketing the area...bleh.

Needless to say, we weren't deterred by everyones' cars turning a sickly shade of yellow before our eyes, and we all loaded up on antihistamines and headed out to watch some racing.

Here is a virtual lap around the Barber Motor sports course, and you can see the course as well in some of my motorcycle track day videos here and here.

We watched the race from a grassy hill around turn one but went over to the Paddock to look at the cars and see some of the drivers before the race started.  The kids thought it was pretty neat to be right in among the cars as the teams wheeled them out and onto the track for the warm up lap and flying start.

Bryce's favorite car, the Boy Scout car, just after getting fueled up.  I wish they had started an engine close by to us so we could feel just how loud these things are.  Noting the faring in front and behind the rear wheels on this Indycar makes me wonder why the Formula 1 cars haven't adopted such a thing if it actually reduces drag to a material degree?

The paddock safety officers had to clear a path to get all the cars out to the track.  Here they are towing a car out and they switched the rain tires (note the grooves) to the racing slicks once in the pits.  Also, note the green pollen stuck all over the front wheel as they rolled it the first 10 yards.  Yuk...

We set up camp on a hillside and I shot an iPhone panorama of our springtime "stadium seating".

As the race started we got a chance to see just how fast the cars were.  They were warming the tires by weaving their cars back and forth across the track while the poor little pace car was whining and sliding as it navigated the course as fast as it could go.  When the Safety Car pulled off into the pits and the race began the noise increased tenfold.

The Start!
You could feel the engines in your chest as the cars raced by.  To see a vehicle go from a tight 60mph turn and accelerate to 150-160 mph in just seconds was astonishing, and viewing that never gets old.

My mom noted that all the cars passing by sounded like angry bees.  That would be one serious swarm of bees...the kind of thing that would be featured in blockbuster disaster movies...or perhaps the final book in the Bible.  The signs of the Blood red moon, the 4 horsemen, and 700 horsepower bees... Yikes.

Turn 1 through a hole in the fence.
After about 20 laps the kids were getting cooked.  Typical, 20 laps of 90 and they are ready to go.  I have found that open wheel racing is good for ADHD people like me since they aren't 3-4 hour long oval track endeavors.  But oh no, not my offspring.  20 laps and that's all that they can handle without getting into fights for entertainment.  I had kind of guessed they would have that reaction even though we were sitting below a Jumbo-tron screen showing the race and just off the track where the cars whipped by.  We hopped a tram and headed over to the kids area for a new view of the track and to let the kids run around while the adults tried to keep up with all the driving exploits.

I got a few pictures, as you can see above in the action shots, but was having less success this time than in past events getting a clear picture.  Who knows why, but I wasn't happy with how they turned out.  I guess I'm glad I don't have to make money taking photographs for a living.  The family would be pretty malnourished.

 Ryan Hunter-Reay had a car that was handling the course beautifully and led for a number of laps early on.  As the race came to the last 10 laps, Ryan ended up in the lead again being chased by Brenna's favorite team - The Target Car...driven by Scott Dixon.  Ryan never gave up the lead after that and he and Scott were pulling away from the 3rd place car rapidly as the final lap came.  A great day and a great race.

Hopefully, now that spring is here, I'll have more writing to do on this blog because the family will have more fun activities going on.  Naturally, removing that 8 inch plate from my leg with the 10 screws lends itself to me feeling good enough to do some entertaining (and blog worthy) things as well.  There's just not much to write about during a year where most of the time I sat in front of an Xbox and a computer at work...

Have a great week everyone, and enjoy The Masters!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Bryce had a birthday. Holy smokes!  He's eleven now!  And now that I think of it, that sparks a troubling thought that probably happens to everyone that realizes that they have a kid that's not a little kid anymore. 

Wait, when I have an older kid, that means that I'm....gasp!

For his birthday, we took everyone out to Busch Gardens in Tampa to ride some roller coasters until we were borderline ill and stumbling into stuff.  For some of us, this took fewer loops than others.  We rode the Cheetah first; which, instead of using a gravity based drop to achieve the speed for the ride, it uses a series of magnets to launch the cars forward in flat sections and then sends you up and over hills producing a nice negative G at the top. 

Bryce's first ride on a big roller coaster and you can see the "What the heck am I getting into" face in the photo.  Eek!

It turns out, that the Cheetah may not have been the best ride to open up the day with, because every major coaster thereafter was met with something like this...

Me:  Cool!  Another coaster to sling my brain out my ear!  Let'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGO!!! 

Ansley: Yeah!  Let'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGO!!!

Bryce:  Nah.  I'm good...

Me:  Seriously lets all go.  It'll be FUN!  Let'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGOLet'sGO!!!

Ansley: has already run into the coaster line without us...

Bryce:  Seriously Dad...  I'm good...

So, out of all this, I discovered my son, who has a cautious side, is not going to be a coaster fanatic, but my say the already one.  Since Aiden wasn't tall enough to ride the big coasters.  Brenna and I would do the kid swap thing where I would ride with Ansley, and Mom would wait with the non-riders and then we would swap.  Ansley would naturally then go and ride it again... with Mom. 

Ansley couldn't get enough of these coasters.  She rode every major coaster in the park and combined to ride them 17 times.  Even the ridiculous diving coaster "Shiekra" that I walked away with bruises from riding.  Ansley rode that thing 4-5 times. 

Who would have thought an 8 year old would be that fearless?  Of course the first time had its moments.  The ride takes you up 200 feet, then inches you over the lip to a straight down drop, and stops for a count of 3 before letting you go.  At that point Ansley looked like she was in over her head and was about to cry.  I told her that I was sorry, but we were in it now and there wasn't any way back.

The anticipation is worth the whole ride.  After that drop, it's a looping fighter jet kind of ride.  As soon as we dropped, Ansley was just fine and giggled/screamed the whole way down. Good stuff.

We also did some other fun stuff like take the safari ride around...which had it gone like this, it might have been more interesting!

The guide did make a note of Bryce's birthday and messed with him a little.  It was pretty funny.

We didn't see any Hippos that I can recall on that ride, and that's just fine with me considering they are the most dangerous animal in all of Africa and nastiest, grossest, poo-flingingest - is that even a word? - nevermind.  I'm not a fan needless to say.

See what I mean about dangerous!

Although, signs with warnings like the one below make me think that ignorant humans are by far and away worse than hippos.  Seriously, if a theme park has to write this down to reminded these idiots not to send their disgustingly ill children into the water to infect everyone elses' children, there is something very very wrong.  I'm a parent, so I understand that kids get ill at the worst times, but seriously, if you know your kid is sick...

Aiden had his share of fun stuff even though he wasn't quite tall enough to ride the big rides.  I'm curious to see if he is as cautious as Bryce or if he is a thrill seeker like Ansley...or if he is something completely different.

I think everyone had a good time, and I know I have a coaster buddy for life now.  I also know exactly what to get Ansley for her Birthday...

Tickets to ride.