Thursday, July 21, 2011

Living Like A "Rock" Star

This is it... the highly anticipated Half Dome blog. Get it? "Rock" star? Elissa Parrish, I know you love me for this...

So... its been a doozie of a week or so.

I took 2 days off at the end of last week to celebrate with some old friends from high school... our class reunion at my parent's house was a nice relaxing time to catch up on some familiar and dear old faces that have been missed over the last decade or so! It was a decent turn out, I think a little more than 1/3rd of the 30 that graduated were able to make it.

We were so busy catching up, roasting s'mores, playing 'high school trivia,' eating, drinking, being merry, and just plain old hanging out... there aren't a ton of pictures but we all had a great time. I think. ;)

On Friday we recovered from a late night the evening before and slept in, then met up with whoever was around in SLO for lunch and wine tasting and some of our old favorite hang outs.

I still have cool friends... yesss!

Saturday it was family day in Yosemite.

Maybe I should back up a step and say that my youngest brother, Kyle, got an amazing opportunity to spend 8 weeks this summer working for the California Youth Conservation Corps in Yosemite National Park.

He is literally sleeping in a basement on a cot and working his butt off blazing trails, backpacking, building tepees for the Indians that summer there, and being a mountain man all the live long day. It was good to see him... he looks GREAT and I know he will have a new appreciation for his own bed when he gets home in a few weeks a $RICH$ man with a fancy resume! ITS A PAID POSITION!

Chelsea and Wady (my high school bff and her husband) were planning a visit for the reunion and since it happened to overlap with these grand Yosemite family day plans we decided to drag them along and make the most of it. We made plans to just stay over night in a neighboring town and take a little day hike the next morning on some obscure little wilderness trail called... Half Dome.


It was breath taking.


No, but seriously.

Did you know you can't breathe up there? (I didn't!) But then we found out real fast.

We started our hike at a little after 6:30am. The hotel we stayed at the night before was in Oakhurst, so we were still a good hour and a half from the trail head the morning of the hike. You do the math... we got up earrrly. Or late. Or something.

We saw some pretty amazing stuff.

We had some pretty good laughs.

We walked some pretty steep miles.

We made some pretty cool friends... who shared their permits with us since we are slackers that didn't realize SIX MONTHS AGO when they sold out online (seven seconds after they went on sale) that we were going to hike half dome on July 17th. Wild. Anyways. We scored the paper thanks to these kind hikers. That's all that matters. Without the transfered permit that we were totally chancing on getting ahold of, we would not have been allowed to hike past the cables once we got to the top. Which would have been a long hike with a big bummer at the end.

I did a little but not a lot of research before we hiked. I was protecting myself from too much information... Its a weird thing I have a habit of doing. I can't over think anything or else seeds of doubt creep in and mess with my head. Hindsight, this was a good move.

We all knew just enough before hand to make sure we had good hiking boots with lots of tread.

We knew how much water to bring per person and what kind of food to pack.

We knew how many miles, how long it would take us, what the temperature would be...

We were NOT prepared for this:

The pictures do no justice to just how terrifying it is to be standing there looking at this thing you are supposed to do with all the other millions of morons at varying skill levels that are trying to do the exact same difficult thing as you at different speeds and abilities.

Some people had gloves and ropes and real mountain climbing GEAR!

Some people were families... that were taking all the years of aggression from around the dinner table out on each other at 7500 feet as our lives dangled in front of us by one tiny cable. No, but seriously. This one guy and his teenage daughter were YELLING at each other to "SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!! NO YOU SHUT UP!!!!...." as we all held on to the same life line praying and concentrating... slightly stressful.

Some people didn't speak any English, which makes communicating hard (which is kind of a luxury you want to take advantage of if you have it). I totally came home and Googled how to say "tell my children I love them" in Japanese so I'll have it handy for next time.

Speaking of kids, some people had CHILDREN with them!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, not like baby children, but like 8 and 9 year olds! Wild. I think my kids are pretty tough cookies... but truthfully I don't know if theres any age that I would feel OK watching them do that at. Sorry, Mom. But its totally true.

When we got close to the top it was literally just giant steps cut into granite rock that we had to scale. That part was scary enough because once you get about half way up those steep little boogers, you turn around and look back and think about how ugly you would look smeared across the face of the cliff you accidentally just climbed without realizing it.

And then, you get to the top of the accidental cliff climbing, and there is a teeny little tent with a volunteer ranger who looks all of 14 years old who basically sits there and laughs at all the idiots (like us!) who suddenly have tons of urgent questions and concerns about how the heck they are going to make it to the top of the impossible.

Chelsea and I made it to the bluff before the cables a little ahead of Wady and Tyson. We couldn't see them but they weren't far behind. Then, there was a crack like the sky was splitting and Jesus was coming back, and the whole mountain we were standing on shook. I thought for sure it was an earthquake and half dome was about to end up on the floor of the valley a mere eight thousand feet below where we were standing. But... turns out... it was just a harmless little avalanche on the mountain across from us that was still capped with snow. Terrifying.

Anyways. The view from the top is incredible.

I took a little 'rest...' and may have even dozed off a moment... only to wake up because I was literally fighting to breathe in and out. It feels like someone is standing on your chest holding a towel over your face while you inhale. I think I'm in decent shape right now over all... it really stressed us all out! It was probably a blessing in the end because if it had been that comfortable up there I might still be up there for fear of the decent back down the death wires.

Down the mountain wasn't half as bad, surprisingly. I think the worst part about down was just knowing we were all TIRED! And it was still nine miles of downhill hike back to the car. The altitude also made us all bloated and puffy... our new hiking shoes were being mean to our fat feet, my fingers looked like sausages (tasty!), and poor Tyson's joints were killing him. Down hill is meaner than up hill! He says he'd totally do it again, but not without poles. Hiking poles, not Polish people. Just to clarify.

By the time we were back at the car, the trip had taken us a good 12 hours, and then we drove all the way home. It was a super duper late night and we had plans to go deep sea fishing out of Rose's landing in Morro Bay the next morning at 6am. We got home close to 1am, and I think that might be the most exhausted I've ever been, including running a marathon and giving birth.

Anyways. That was our crazy mountain adventure. Its been a busy month or so, and I have more to blog about! And for once... it doesn't really involve my kids. Gasp! I almost feel guilty typing that. Almost.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Party in the USA

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!

We've been going and going and going... I'm ready to blog just for an excuse to sit down a minute! Lucky little you. ;)

Poor Ty had to work alllll weekend. Except for this morning. So, instead of moping around and hopelessly pining away for him, we decided to load the car and head to a little known haven called... LOS ANGLES.

Evidently we weren't the only ones with that idea... erhm. It took FOUR HOURS to get out of LA on the way home. Those were some dark, dark, dark, dark hours people. Not pretty at all.

Peed in some strange places.

Cried real tears when the technology ran out of battery.

There was yelling and hair pulling... I'm not telling if it was the kids or me.

But we made it. And it was SO worth it to spend a few hours with some of my most favorite faces!

Carly and Dave were visiting for literally 5 minutes. We got at least a good 2 of those 5 minutes, it was a treat! There was a wedding Carly was part of, and Ann and Joe were also attending. The next day (Saturday) we rolled in to town around lunch time, and they braved the blazing hot and unfamiliar freeways to come meet us for an afternoon in the shade at KJs pool. KJ got off work shortly after and we all swam and ate and had a grand old time, until we were STARVING and Jessica got off work and met us for a delish family dinner.

The only complaint of the entire weekend (besides... wait, did I already mention the traffic? ;)...) was not having Ty there to enjoy it with. But there was still a LOT of giving on every one's part to make the afternoon of bliss happen and it was so fun and I'd ~probably~ do it all again.

But without the traffic. That I barely even noticed.


Anyways. With all that TRAFFIC that took us FOUR HOURS to get thru before the real drive could EVEN START... we had a sweet little MUCH NEEDED pit stop in Santa Barbara with Auntie Marlene who fed and hydrated us, washed my filthy daughter's stinky little feet, and showed us to her neighborhood playground where the kids blew off GOBS OF ENERGY PREVIOUSLY CONTAINED IN THE SHRINKING CONFINES OF THE BLISTERING HOT CAR. IN LA TRAFFIC. Traffic sucks. Heh. I think I'm done now. Maybe.

Needless to say, with all the adventure we packed in to the weekend we got home super late and our 4Th of July plans included a bright-n-early 5k that involved driving out to the middle of the wilderness (where only escaped convicts and the witch from Hansel and Gretel call home) to run 3 miles in the sweltering heat. Do we know how to have a good time, or WHAT?!?!

No, but seriously, it was a really really good time.

Anabelle was the cheerleader this time around. Which was probably a good call, since she stayed at the finish line with a good friend who reported that she couldn't even bring herself to STAND in the sun and wait for us to cross. Ha. Disaster adverted. ;) Score one point for team parents.

Dawson was quite a contender...

He finished under 40minutes and placed THIRD in his age group. WHATS UPPPPPPP!?!?!?!? I am so proud I could explode. He won some pretty cool stuff... a nIcE Asics duffel bag that he already determined he can fit all the way inside of and zip the zipper... an ExCeLLeNt quality in a duffel bag... er... so Im told...

He also won these awesome sunglasses. I ~might~ be borrowing them. Pretty often. Or we can call them 'thanks for the awesome first race, Mama!' ;) Juuuuust kidding... probably.

I also set a personal record despite the presence of my EVIL arch enemy... HOT WEATHER. Its literally kryptonite to my Clark Kent. I was shocked I did so well for myself, but ILL TAKE IT! After the race there was a tasty breakfast and lots of other cool prizes. We left with some fun loot. Its a cool tradition. Or a hot tradition. You know what I mean.

We stopped by Grammies on the way home to cool off...

Man, are we bonafide country folk or WHAT!?!

If the boot fits... ;)

Grammie does a really great job giving any holiday or occasion a festive flare... our country's birthday was no exception.

There are more pictures of the food spread because I'm one of those weirdos who likes food por... I mean pictures... But my computer is being lame so maybe if I get ambitious later Ill upload them. Don't wait by your laptop tho.

By the end of the festivities we were SOO TIRED we came crawling home and everyone took naps before Ty had to work. Hallelujah (sang the heavenly hosts)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a great weekend, and I am so so so thankful for safety on the road as we passed so many horrible accidents and stranded travelers... and also, for what its worth, I am thankful to be an American despite our country's quirks and imperfections. My children drink clean water and pray to our God any time and any where they want, America is BEAUTIFUL, and there are men and women willing to die to protect our countless freedoms and allow us sleep each night.

Hope everyone had a hot dog and a beer, and managed to find some sparks in their day somehow.