31 July, 2008

Family Find

I'm a bit behind on my posting and have several subjects, so I figured I'd get one in now.

A couple weeks ago, we got a message from John - we're family and he's in town, it'd be nice to get together to visit. I *love* visiting with family - any chance I get!! Even if I've never met them before... =) (Thanks mom or Aunt Anna or whomever passed along our contact information - I'm so glad you did!!)

Turns out, John is my first cousin once removed. I admit I had to use wikipedia to get a firmer grasp of the familial relationship. My grandmother (on my dad's side) and his mom are sisters - so not first cousins, but not seconds either. 1sts, once removed. It was very nice to visit for a bit, and I kept thinking that mom would really enjoy seeing this bit of living genealogy - branches of the tree coming together, if you will.

It was wonderful to spend time with John - starting a new relationship with family, finding I have roots in another part of the country, hearing a bit about my dad's side from a different perspective. Fascinating and very enjoyable. If we get to travel down to FL next spring for Greg's work, we'll have to see if we can work in a visit to AL... Thanks for calling, John!! I'm glad we could hook up - but next time, dinner's on us!! =)

On the way home, we ran across a vehicle that I've seen around town for the past couple of years. It's so interesting and odd that I've wanted a picture, but I only ever see it when I'm driving. Since Greg was with me, I had him take the picture as we passed the car. Then we did a loop-back and caught a side view too. I'm sure the people driving thought we were nuts!!

I've heard it's a motor-home-type vehicle, made to be able to handle rugged terrain. Sure looks like that would do the job! And such a pretty blue, too...

11 July, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow...

My last haircut was about 2 years ago. A few months ago, my hair started giving me fits and I figured it was time for another stop at the salon. Problem was, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my hair. Keep it long? Shave it off? I've tried mid-length and wasn't very fond of it, but I wasn't sure if I'd like short hair (it's been more than 15 years since I've had short hair) or if it would look good, but I was tired of the same 'do.
Old style - in a knot on top
A couple weeks ago I had Greg make an appointment for me with his stylist (Jamie's also been my stylist for the last 4-5 years, but since that makes approximately 3 haircuts I'm not sure if that counts...). Then I was talking to Greg about my dilemma. What if I cut it short and totally hate it?!? Just trimming it leaves me with the same look, only a tad shorter. But that's something I know how to handle... Short - I can grow it back, but it might take a while. Long - depressingly the same. What to do? I still hadn't made up my mind, so I told Greg maybe I'd just have Jamie whack it in the middle and be done with it. His suggestion was to cut enough to donate to Locks of Love - if I don't like it short, I can always get extensions... =) What a smart man!!
Old style - flappin' in the breeze

The Big Day came, and I was still undecided. I looked at some of the pictures in the magazines, hoping to find something that looks nice and works with curly hair. I took some of the examples back with me and discussed options with Jamie. Criteria: 1) Something new; 2) Low maintenance; 3) Fun; 4) No Triangle Head; and 5) No fuzzy hair. She said she could do it, so I let her have her way with the scissors. I was concerned that a short 'do wouldn't look good with my round face, but Jamie pointed out that if I'm wearing it up 90% of the time I already have a much shorter 'do... Good point!! Because of all the playing with my curls (and their shock at the cutting), Jamie styled my hair straight... What a change!!
New 'do done straight

That was Wednesday. I have to admit that there were a couple people at work that took a while to recognize me. I'm going to try that style more often! Thursday, I was going to try for the same, but I'm just not coordinated enough to do the comb/blow dryer combo - I think I need the straight iron (which I got Thursday night). So the top was still straight, but the rest was curly. (And I was late to work because I spent so much time trying to do and redo my hair.)

And Friday I decided to try ALL curly. I actually used a comb in my hair. For those of you with long curly hair, you know this is an impossibility. I don't even own a brush (well, until last night - when I bought one with the straightening iron). I always use (used to use!) loads of shampoo and conditioner, then spray on lots of leave in conditioner (as a detangler), then add bunches of goo to give lift and deter fuzz. All that has changed. Bonus: the morning routine is shorter, and I can probably shave more time off as I get better at my new style. AND I've already had three different styles, instead of my standard two. I have an appointment in 3 weeks to get a touchup (if needed) and some tips on what I can do with my new self.

It's taking some getting used to, but I like it. Believe it or not, my hair seems even curlier than it was. Jamie said the curls might relax some after they're used to not having so much hair pulling them down. I suppose we'll see...

10 July, 2008

Another Squirrel Creek Adventure

This has the potential to be a very *long* post. My options are to try not to be boring, or to break this into multiple posts. Since I already have the topic of my next post, I decided to try not to be boring. You'll have to let me know how that works out...

Our second camping trip of the season - over 4th of July weekend - was spent in Squirrel Creek. This is an area that we've been to many times over the past couple of years. We try to get in some new areas each year, but at least once we head north to Squirrel Creek. The drive up was gorgeous - as usual.
View from Sheep Mountain pulloff

Since I *froze* last time (at Byers Lake), we came prepared this time. Sure, it's July... but that's no guarantee that it's going to be warm. Greg bought new sleeping bags - rated for -25 degrees - and a tent heater, and we brought lots of tarps in case of rain. I also packed some long sleeve shirts, long johns, and plenty of warm fuzzy socks. Good thing I also packed a pair of shorts (one), a couple t-shirts, and a tank top. Also a good thing that when you're camping you're allowed to wear the same thing every day. (Let's just say the tent heater never came out of the box... but that's okay, cuz I'm sure we're going to need it - I'm going to need it - on the Labor Day trip...)

(Note: I normally have to get up 2-3 times - at least! - every night and make the trek to the outhouse. I always hate this because it's cold, I'm sleepy, outhouses are no fun - especially in the dark - and I'm losing sleep. This trip, two nights in a row I was able to sleep the night through, without the trek. I wonder if that has anything to do with being warm while I'm sleeping? Hmmm...)
Cooling off in the "lake"

It was so warm that we didn't have fires until late, late at night - then not big ones because people are starting to go to bed. I didn't even roast any marshmallows this trip... The best fire we had was the last night - and that's because we were working on burning up as much of the wood we brought as possible. I love big fires!

The warm days ensured we were out & about (tents were too hot & stuffy for napping most of the time), which provided lots of fun. John, Sam, Jennifer, & Tony brought 4-wheelers - so people doubled up, and headed up into the hills. Apparently it was pretty dusty out there, since everyone that went headed over to the lodge down the road (we lovingly refer to it as the Adult Day Care Center) for showers.
Dirty Boys

Those of us that stayed behind had a fabulous time. I relaxed in the sun reading and later tried to nap for a bit. Then we played games and ate junk food until the rest of the crew arrived. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how potent the sun was. I was wearing my tank top, and now have some lovely lobster red shoulders that are peeling. I'm just glad they're not so sore anymore. It seems everyone ended up with some type of sunburn by the end of the weekend. =) Sadly, my burn happened on Thursday - so I had to wear regular t-shirts for the rest of the long, hot weekend. I'm just grateful my burn was on my shoulders. Jen burned from the t-shirt line down to her hands. No way to keep that out of the sun - unless you're willing to wear long-sleeved shirts and be a puddle of goo...
Party girls at camp

Friday was more goofing off and relaxing. Those that didn't get to ride previously, took the chance this time. Ride wasn't as long, but apparently it was just as dirty - and fun.
Uni-brow, anyone?

Teach 'em young!

Since it was the 4th, we *had* to have fireworks!! They're not allowed in the campground, so we trek out to the road (just outside the boundaries) to enjoy our fun. We had pretty sparklers, mortars, screamers, and - the best - roman candles. It was great!! The property across the road also had fireworks, so we got a double treat. There were lots of roman candles - so we could have duels. =) Some of our crew are just down right crazy... We had these wars last year too - see here - but we had one casualty this year. Greg hit John in the nose. He's okay now - a little skittish around loud noises and bright lights, but that should pass with time... =)
John defeated

Saturday we headed out to Valdez. It's only an hour from Squirrel Creek, so I just can't pass up the opportunity to visit with my sister. It's a fun trip, with spectacular views - as a bonus, we get showers, flushing toilets, and a visit with Sara. There are lots of geocaches on the way too, and since most of our group are also avid cachers there's plenty to do. The scenery is breath-taking in Valdez - but I wouldn't choose to winter there (too much snow!). I have loads more pictures (I took more than 100 over the course of the weekend) that I will be posting to my Flickr account in the near future.
Mountain view in Valdez

Hangin' with Sara

And we've reached the end of another campout with the Bucket O' Fun club. It was lots of fun, and the weather was wonderful - the best we've had all summer! I think the September trip is to Hope... we shall see, eh?
Bucket O' Fun

Greg and I took a detour on the drive home - for some caching, of course! But it also gave me the opportunity to see some areas that I haven't been to before. We stopped at Liberty Falls, just outside of Chitina (pronounced Chitna) and then proceeded to the Copper River. In previous trips, some of our party have made this trek, but this was the first time I've been. Liberty Falls was fantastic. And now I have an image (of a wide meandering brown river lined with fish wheels) to go with "Copper River Reds" - these are practically the most famous salmon around (at least the best marketed).
Liberty Falls

Fireweed on the Copper River