Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walking, running, and soccer

Last weekend was busy.  This coming weekend will be busy times two. Or ten.

Early Saturday morning, I met Luap and Werdna (not their real names) for a nice long 20 mile hike. We knew it was going to get hot, so we parked a car to use as an aid station at about the two thirds point of the hike. We couldn't park where we wanted to, so we had to modify the hike a bit. The modification ended up adding significant elevation. This is what the marine layer looked like when we dropped off the aid station - the good news was that we would be starting under this, where it would be nice and cool. The bad news was that it wasn't very thick, which meant it would burn off quickly. And it did.

The trail we were on had two significant traits: it was mostly uphill, sometimes ridiculously so; and it had little shade. (Why were we using it then, would be a good question. Because it is a great workout would be the dubious answer.)

At one point there was a small stream - we filled up a couple of bottles and dumped the water on our heads to cool off.

A refreshed Luap and Werdna. We ended up shortening the hike to about 11 miles, but these were 11 of the hardest miles I've ever hiked. Sadly, we all agreed to do it again sometime in the near future.

The next morning, Mrs Notthat and I got up and drove to Santa Cruz for their Wharf to Wharf six mile race to Capitola. There were 15,000 runners - way more than in any event I had been in before. It was a very, ummmm, loose and mostly entertaining crowd. It took us nearly nine minutes to reach the starting line once the race started.

A big draw for this event is that there are more than forty bands along the route. Some push the definition of "band" to an extreme, but almost all were entertaining. I do not know why this guy is dressed as a Mexican cow - there were a number of bathrobes and others that looked like they were still up from a late Saturday night. There were ukulele bands, two bagpipe bands, several drum bands, and many others. It really was fun to hear something new every couple of hundred yards or so.

My ex-boss, Yllas (who lives down there), was waiting for us along the route and took this picture. Note the overcast - the sun never broke through and it was pleasantly cool the whole morning.

The finishing area was on a beach in Capitola. The whole event was a blast and sells out early every year.

We picked up the grandkids on the way home.

They played an modified form of soccer that allows hands.

And then they spent a lot of time setting up a bunch of rocks as a path/egg nest/something dangerous to run the lawn mower over.

This coming Saturday is going to be a LOT of fun. First, cousins Rehtaeh and Nevar are coming out to visit from Ohio on Thursday. Also, Weird Haired Mom is coming home on Thursday. And on Saturday, Brazen Racing is holding their Bad Bass race out at Lake Chabot. The above picture is The Boy after a morning of running hills with me, getting toughened up a bit.

For the first time, our whole family (plus others) will be in the same event: Mrs Notthat, WHM and hubby Needs Cool Name, Darci and Riley (!), Rehtaeh, and our bonus friend Irbua will all be running the 5K event; The Boy, Nevar, and I will all be running the Half Marathon event.

I can't wait to see how the grandkids do - I suspect they will love it and do great. And that they will clean the aid station out of M&Ms. I also can't wait to see how The Boy and Nevar do in the Half - this is not a particularly easy Half since it has a nice, significant hill about a third of the way through and might get a bit warm by the time we finish. But I think they'll do fine and I'll be hanging with them (unless they leave me in the dust).

And that's about it for now. It's going to be a BUSY weekend, but it promises to be fun.

And filled with bling!

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tomato, croquet, blood, and a pedicure

Here are a few pictures that nicely sum up the week.

The garden is doing OK considering how much it has been neglected. There are a couple of pumpkins and a whole bunch of green tomatoes, but what caught Darci's eye was the one red tomato she found. Within seconds she had eaten it.

The garden has very little variety this year: tomatoes, pumpkins, and some lemon cucumbers. No zucchini or green beans - we just never got around to putting them in.

I didn't understand why, but the grandkids begged to be put in these wire cages. Darci then started a complicated story involving a princess trapped in a castle and an evil king (or pirate - she wasn't very clear on this point).

She eventually lost track of the story herself and decided to play croquet "the right way." "The right way" involved placing your ball directly in front of a hoop, then taking as many swings as needed to get it through the hoop. It was even permissible to move the hoop if needed.

Next weekend Rehtaeh and Nevar (not their real names) are flying in from Ohio to visit. A highlight will be the Brazen Bad Bass race at Lake Chabot. Mrs Notthat, Rehtaeh, and Irbua are all going to do the 5K event, and Nevar signed up for the half marathon (as did I). The Boy, not to be outdone, has also signed up for the half marathon.

So he went out and bought a pair of proper running shoes. This place takes a video of you running on a treadmill and a digital impression of the bottom of your foot to work out what sort of shoe you need ("expensive" was the answer). As a complete surprise, he needed exactly what I needed, but half a size smaller.

The Boy and I then headed out to break them in by running some hills. Within minutes he had blood on them. I think he likes trail running.

Completely unrelated, The Boy and his shredded arm decided it was time trim his cat Bugsy/Skittles/Shadow's claws. Wisely, he got help in the form of a heavy towel and Irbua to get the job done. The cat was not amused.

This weekend will be another full one. Mrs Notthat is having a yard sale on Saturday while I go for a nice long walk. On Sunday, we both head down to Santa Cruz to participate in the Wharf to Wharf six mile race.

All of which will make Monday at work seem nice and relaxing.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cuba Missouri days four and five: wrapping it up

You might be sensing a theme here: boats, swimming, eating, and fireworks. Saturday was more of the same.

We'll start with this group picture, showing everyone who showed up (except Aerdna who insisted on taking the picture; all names are using my super secret code). Starting from the left, you see Cash the Wonder Dog, with Tnarg (sitting next to Cash), son of Ecurb (in white in the back row), who is the squeeze of cousin Netsirk (in black). They all live in St Louis.

The next group are all from Ohio: In the back in blue is cousin Leinad with daughter Nevar and wife Rehtaeh in front of him. The three boys sitting in front are Etat (wearing the attractive hat), Nedyah (not actually related - I think they picked him up hitchhiking along the freeway or something like that), and Ralyks (mostly sane brother of Etat).

Next, from Maryland, we have Ylime (white top, next to Rehtaeh), daughter of Duuuuuuaaannnn, who is standing in front of her squeeze Nnelg.

Next you have us from California: Mrs Notthat, The Blog, and The Boy.

Next to me are the owners of the lake house and the dozen or so boats used this weekend: Ddot and cousin Annod, parents of Yaj (sitting in front next to the boys) and Netsirk.

Did you follow all that?

The boys (and yes, I'm including Yaj with them) had a lot of fun jumping from one tube to the other while being pulled (fairly gently) behind the pontoon boat. I did find that a well timed jerk of a tube's rope could add to the difficulty of standing on one of these. As did shooting water balloons at them. (Right Duuuaaannn?)

While we were fooling around on the lake, Leinad was out shopping. Today was closing day for the local fireworks store, and Leinad was able to pick up this batch of pyroboomies at a bargain. These were some very serious fireworks - it was amazing that normal people (and even borderline people like Leinad) were allowed to buy things like this without a cooling off period.

Speaking of the lack of a cooling off period, here is Nnelg calmly cooking bacon. As entertaining as any Benihana I've ever been to. (For those that are rightly concerned, the stash of fireworks were on the other end of the porch. Not that the thought didn't race across the boy's minds to wonder what might happen if...)

One of the activities was to dig a hole in the backyard, shape a "form" (made from empty beer boxes), fill it with concrete, and write something clever on it. The fact that Nnelg's head looks like it is on fire is a complete coincidence.

Nevar did manage to run the jet ski out of gas and had to be towed in. The goal was to put it on its trailer, using the newly fixed (probably) dolly, and take it out of the lake. It turns out that the dolly does not have a parking brake - it was positioned on the ramp and then abandoned while we walked the jet ski around to it. When we got to the ramp, the tailer and dolly were gone - they had rolled into the lake. Ddot was able to easily find them though (he's holding the dolly handle here) and managed to pull the trailer and the jet ski back to land.

By the way, the dolly passed this test (other than the whole rolling into the lake thing).

Cash loved fetching this floating thing from the water. Here, Etat raced him out (and lost handily).

Yaj and Aerdna (Yaj's squeeze) doing their best impersonations of the Skipper and Mary Ann from the best show to come out of the sixties - The Monkees.

For the second night in a row, ice cream was manually made on the porch, although this time many more people were volunteered to help. (Tip: Get in on the cranking early. It gets much more difficult later, as the cream freezes.)

After dinner, we all loaded onto the pontoon boat and headed out to the middle of the lake to watch a very impressive fireworks show put on by one of the local backyards. It was great hearing the booming echoing across the lake. Once that was done, we went back and started firing off the above mentioned stash.

It was also very impressive. (There was one scary moment after the grand finale when you could hear an animated discussion about whether something would work or not. What I learned from this is that if there is any doubt, it won't work. It didn't and Aerdna has a small burn mark to prove it.)

And that's about it. The next morning was spent scouring an area the size of about two football fields to pick up all the debris from the fireworks. (I wish I had taken a picture of this process or of the many bags that were filled.)

Then the Ohio people headed back to Indiana (really) and shortly after that we headed to the airport.

This was an amazingly fun trip. I can't thank Ddot and Annod enough for their patience, generosity, and ability to not panic while a group of crazed ten-year-olds wandered around the front yard with scary fireworks. It was great to see everyone again and to get to know the new people. (And to secretly wonder what was wrong with them to want to get involved with this wacky family!)

That's it - move along...

PS: You can view a LOT more pictures from this weekend here: Let me know if you would like original files from any of these pictures.

Cuba Missouri day three: more people show up

Shortly after we left the lake house and headed to our motel around midnight on Thursday, two more families arrived. (If my math is correct, I believe there were 13 people and a dog all staying at the lake house by Saturday night. Yikes!)

Note: The blog post for day four will include a group shot where I will explain who all these people are (probably incorrectly).

It was still raining when we woke up, but it soon quit and ended up being a nice day. In any case, we showed up Friday morning to a much more rambunctious house.

Here The Boy is playing with Cash (named after Ynnhoj), a remarkably well behaved bundle of energy that belongs to Netsirk (to the right of The Boy's head) and Ecurb (who is in the next picture).

There was a group of ten-year-old boys that by the end of the event were all being called Moe. This is Etat, holding a piranha that he had just caught. Ecurb managed the fishing aspect of the morning. Many of these fish were caught, although most were small enough to put in an aquarium.

The ski boat ran out of gas and had to be towed in by the pontoon boat. I was amazed this sort of thing didn't happen more often, especially with the jet ski that rarely sat idle.

The one boat guaranteed to not run out of gas. This is the first real test of the dolly.

Which it failed. Note that my welds were fine and the ones that broke were older. This meant that later on I got another shot at the arc welder.

Mrs Notthat, Ddot, and near professional sailor Ylime heading out.

Much time was also spent swimming in the lake. It took a bit of skill to keep your beer above the water, plus you had to drink it fast since it would warm up quickly.

Leinad with a couple of Moes on the jet ski. This makes four different boats we had in the lake at any one time.

One of the more interesting meals were these "walking tacos." You took a bag of Doritos, scrunched it up a bit, then dumped in whatever taco "fillings" you wanted. You then used a fork to eat it out of the bag - very little cleanup! Very observant readers will note that the porch swing that Ylime and Duuuuaaannnn are sitting on is about to coming crashing down. I don't blame them (publicly).

And of course there were fireworks. Note the burned spot on the grass. I don't know how they did it, but they managed to set a very damp lawn on fire.

So that about wraps up Friday. It was great that the weather cooperated (no rain, not too hot or humid). It was also great that nobody got seriously hurt (other than a mild sunburn or two). Now on to day four.

That's it - move along...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cuba Missouri day two: getting wet

Day two started very early. Just before 2 AM Mrs Notthat, Duuuaaaaannn, Nnelg, and Ylime (not their real names) arrived at the motel after their all-day drive from San Antonio. Curiously, they seemed a bit tired.

After a good partial night's sleep though, they were good (ish) to go.

But before anything could happen, Mrs Notthat modeled for me the pink cowboy hat with tiara that she picked up in Texas. She had mentioned this in a Facebook post and I failed to believe her. (For the record, the hat is for grandkid Darci, although weirdly, I expect grandkid Riley to fight her for it.)

This is The Boy looking at the culvert that nearly cost him being able to see that last firework going off the previous night. For the safety conscious (which included nobody at this house that weekend), a wooden platform placed on the lawn was used for the rest of the fireworks. At least until the last night when the REALLY scary things were set off, when only the middle of the street would do (just barely).

From left to right, this is Annod (wife of Ddot, who together own this lake house and came up with the insane idea of holding the family reunion there), Duuuuaaaannnn (who is Mrs Notthat's kid-sister), Ddot, and The Boy.

Annod and Ddot have a number of boat-like vessels. Their house, while not directly on the lake, is extremely close to a dock. In this picture, Ddot is releasing the ski boat into the lake. That old van behind him is used almost exclusively for towing boats back and forth from the house. Extremely cleverly, it has a hitch on its front which makes the process so easy even I was able to help in useful ways.

I have tried several times previously, but have never succeeded in trying to water ski. I'm sad to say my prefect losing streak is still intact. I was pathetic. But the water was very nice, even when it was shooting up my nose at 30 MPH.

Yaj, on the other hand, is a great water skier, and maybe just a bit of a hot dog.

While a few of us were fooling around with the ski boat, the others cruised around on the pontoon boat.

At one point the two boats joined up and had an exchange of riders.

Mrs Notthat and Annod on the pontoon boat.

The Boy and Mrs Notthat. Note the lack of a blue sky.

Ddot not caring at all what color the sky was.

Duuuuaaaannnn relaxing.

The ski boat taking off for more skiing.

We came in from the lake for a bit when it started showering. It's not easy to see in this picture, but The Boy is dealing with the "run away from the lit firework" issue by just holding it and taking his chances (if you look carefully you can see something just above that tree that has shot out of that tube he's holding).

Duuuaaannnn relaxing after that stressful pontoon boat ride. Much time was spent on the front porch of the house (when we weren't on the lake).

Me doing some welding wearing remarkably inappropriate clothing. This thing is a dolly to be used to help get boats and trailers in and out of the water without using the van. I mentioned that I had used an arc welder once before, so I was drafted to try and get the handle reattached to the frame. (I had a lot of fun doing this. Much better than any old silly firework.)

If you got too hot, you could lounge in the air conditioned house. This picture also includes Ylime and Nnelg, who had slept a bit later than the others that came up from Texas.

The Boy working with some more fireworks. Note the pure joy on his face.

Ylime and Mrs Notthat on the front porch swing.

We headed out for an evening cruise around the lake. Everyone who has made it in so far is in this picture (although Annod is hiding a bit) except Yaj. Where is he?

Oh dear. There he is.

And here I am. I had jumped into the lake for a brief swim just before we headed out, so, being soaking wet, was made to sit on the other end of the boat.

Being soaking wet came in handy since it started raining again while we were out. Here Nnelg, who couldn't fit under the awning with the others, is using an umbrella to stay dry.

And that was about it for this day. The rain was a bit relentless that night and threatened to dampen the next day's activities, but everyone was still perky (if a bit tired from lack of sleep).

That's it - move along...