27 July, 2010

Life Lesson #354: Read the Signs

Do you ever play games on the way in to work to determine whether or not it's going to be a good day?  I mean, as if having to get out of bed doesn't start it out wrong to begin with.  Then sleeping too late, rushing to get ready, trying not to get too sweaty after getting out of the shower, cleaning around the eyes from the mascara that didn't make it to the lashes (I'm not a big fan of the microfiber brushes they have now)...  running out of coffee, cold water for the shower, and getting your hair caught in the drawer pull as you're rising from putting down food for the cats...

On my normal route to work, there are nine stop lights.  On average, I hit six of those lights green.  And I do ratios as I'm getting closer.  One light red 1/1; one light green 1/2 - that's 50%; another green light - 2/3 for 66.67%; etc.  (Side note: it's amazing that when you only have a small pool of numbers, any detractor causes a significant drop in percentage that is never really recovered.  Makes me think those pop quizzes in school that counted for so much of a grade were really unfair.  Ten questions, I miss two and I'm already down to a B.  Five questions, miss one and it's a B; two and you've practically failed.)  The even and smaller numbers are easier to convert to percentages - it's a bit more difficult when I get to 7 or 9, but I have it all worked out before I get into the parking lot.

Like I said, most days I get six of nine (2/3 or 66.67%) green lights.  There are some days that I'm luckier and get 7 or 8 green lights.  On those days, I make sure to circle the parking lot, since I just *know* there's going to be a spot right up front for me.  And in more than 6 years of working at this location, there has only been ONE time when I made all nine lights green.  That was an amazing day.

On the other hand, there are days (like today) that only make 5/9 (55.55%) - and the few rare 4/9 days (44.44%).  If I'd been paying attention to the signs, I would've realized that I should just go home and crawl back in bed.

06 July, 2010

The Grand Finale

Instead of going to downtown Seattle with the rest of the gang, on Sunday (4th of July) I chose to spend the day with my friend Holly and her family.  I've known Holly since I was 12 - longer than practically any other person outside my blood family.  We don't get together very often - and that includes email, snail-mail, phone calls or visits - but I try to work in a get-together whenever we're in the Seattle area, even if it's just a meal between flights.  =)  By opting out of further geocaching events, that meant more time for visiting with friends.  YAY!
 When we arrived at the Gorski household (Sheri and Phil accompanied me on my adventures), we were immediately asked our preference for a puppet show: shadow puppets or real puppets.  We ended up getting both, from the imaginations of the two older boys (the baby is only a few months old, so he's not interested in participating... yet...).  So cute!
Sheri and I spent the rest of Sunday and the better part of Monday (up until it was time to go to the airport) visiting.  Nothing super-exciting, but all of it enjoyable as I reconnected with Holly and her family.  They're so great!  Sheri was wonderful with the baby - if he was fussy at all, he'd settle right down and go to sleep when she was holding him.  For me, the first encounter was the usual: semi-sleepy, content child gets handed off to me and less than 30 seconds later he's upset and crying.  Hand off to Sheri and 30 seconds after that he's happy and drifting off to sleep again.  I did get in some holding time where the baby wasn't fussy - which happens so infrequently that it's practically a miracle.  Seems that once the babies get to toddler and older they're okay with me, but the small ones and I just have some kind of issue...
One of the bits I'll remember fondly about this visit: Holly, Sheri, and I were in the kitchen warming up pizza for lunch.  The oldest had been sent to his room for some type of misbehavior.  He sent a note out via Corey to Holly that read something like this: Please quit toking (talking) and make lunch.  Very funny in retrospect (and I totally wish I'd taken a picture of his note), but let's just say he didn't get out of his room any sooner...  =)  After some tears and making up, lunch was a happy, energetic event.  Holly and Corey certainly have their hands full with the three boys, and the baby isn't even mobile yet. I can only imagine...
With enough time to collect Greg from his hiking adventure and get our luggage loaded in the car, we met up again at The Cheesecake Factory.  First time I've been there, and it was tasty!  We'll have to go again sometime, when we've got a bit more time to relax and visit.  After mechanical issues with the plane, we made it home safe and sound.  Greg even got to nap for an hour before he had to get up and go to work (I took the day off).  The highlights of this trip for me are related to the people I was spending my time with:
  • Sheri's foaming toothpaste that tried to kill me the first time I used it (there *is* such a thing as too much toothpaste, especially for the foaming kind where a little goes a very long way)
  • The Lighthouse Tour with Sheri and Greg
  • Scoping out the wild outfits at GeoWoodstock with Chachee and Sheri
  • Spending time with Holly and her family
All in all, a superb trip with plenty of happy memories.  And now it's back to the daily grind.  =)

04 July, 2010


A whole day surrounded by geocaching enthusiasts.  My vision of the event is it's going to be like a small scale fair combined with a trip to WalMart - a festive atmosphere with tents and booths where you can hardly move without bumping into someone.  I'm *SO* glad Sheri is biting the bullet to come with me.  She doesn't cache at all, and I'm not an enthusiast like Greg.  Oh, I'm so not looking forward to the crowds...

After some mighty fine bacon with a tasty breakfast, we made it to Remlington Farms in Carnation, Washington - the location of this year's GeoWoodstock.  After being there for about a half hour, I could feel the walls closing in.  Complete strangers were coming up to see where I was from and how I liked caching there.  It seemed like I couldn't turn around without either bumping into someone or being accosted.  But here comes Sheri to the rescue!  In addition to hanging with me for the day, she came up with some alternative entertainment: Sheri, Chachee and I spent the rest of the day scoping out and taking pictures of the wildest outfits we could find.  =)
Turns out our first specimen (the fellow in the orange shirt with the bowling pin - he goes by Gomer) is a friend of Greg's from Florida.  He and his cohorts drove cross-country to attend the festivities.  Now that's dedication! After a while, Sheri and I parked it on the lawn while the rest of our buddies took off for a "team" caching event - they came in 4th out of 8 teams.  Not so bad...  Chachee even won a raffle prize - yay!!
Aaron and Team Purple Heading Out
Chachee Returns with Her Prize
 All in all, it wasn't a bad day.  I definitely don't need to attend another GeoWoodstock (Honey, if you want to go, you're on your own!), but it was fun to spend time with friends and I especially enjoyed the time with Sheri.  So glad she could get the time off for the weekend, and consented to hanging around with crazy cachers.  =)

For dinner, we stopped in at Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in (recommended by Gomer) for burgers.  Definitely worth the stop!!  Great rootbeer, great shakes, great burgers.  Greg had one almost as big as his head - the Cutlass 442 with a beef patty, hot dog, slab of ham, bacon, and topped with grilled onions.  We all hurt watching him finish.  (Read the fine print on the warning sign below - advice worth following!)  I'll definitely keep this spot in mind for future trips down South.
On tap for tomorrow: Split the group.  Greg, Aaron, and Chachee are going to do more geocaching events while Sheri, Phil, and I head out to visit my friend Holly and her family.  Time for some shopping!!  =)

03 July, 2010

Lighthouse Coastal Tour

Greg originally wanted to get started at 6:30am today.  Lucky for me, we couldn't check out of the room until 8am.  An extra hour or so of sleep, yay!  To make up for not being able to leave as early as planned, Greg went out to see some sights and get some pictures.  In the guise of being helpful, he thoughtfully set the alarm on his blackberry.  This is all good and fine, except the damn thing was locked and I had no way to disarm it - the best I could do was snooze for 5 minutes.  When he got back to the room 45 minutes later, it was in pieces.  Fortunately for him, those pieces were the case, the battery, and the device, rather than smashed little bits.  Not the most auspicious way to start the morning for someone who is definitely NOT a morning person.  But the cinnamon roll almost as large as my head and some coffee from a little cafe in Oceanside seemed to help immensely.  =)
The plan for today was to do some sightseeing as we made our way back up to Washington for the geocachers luau, a pre-GeoWoodstock event.  First stop along the way, the Tillamook cheese factory for a tour and lunch.
It was fascinating to see the factory and learn about one of my favorite brands of cheese.  We got to taste several flavors that aren't available back home, and had a most delicious cheese sandwich for lunch.  I have to admit that I was disappointed in the quality and cooking of the bacon (it was thin and floppy, rather than thick and crispy), but the combination of cheeses - extra sharp white, medium, and sharp - was delicious!  Being full from lunch, we didn't get more ice cream.  I'm wishing that I could have that ice cream I skipped on then, right now...
From there, we headed north along the coastal route to see some lighthouses.  Of course, in many of our stops there were caches to be had.  Some were Earth Caches - where we have to find information about a formation or phenomenon - like Haystack Rock.  Greg went to find the cache while Sheri and I visited and wondered why this area has deer that jump through hoops.  I suppose it's good exercise and will keep them on their toes?
We stopped at North Head Lighthouse for a short walk and some nice views.  Then headed to Desperation Point.  Greg did the hike out to the lighthouse while Sheri and I entertained ourselves by chatting and taking pictures of the local flora.
We didn't make it back to Washington in time for the luau.  In fact, we arrived back at Sheri's apartment at 9pm - in time to hook up with Aaron and Chachee again and relax for an evening before more fun tomorrow.  It's GeoWoodstock all day tomorrow.  How fun is that?!?
The Oregon coast is absolutely beautiful.  I really enjoyed our little sightseeing tour, and only regret that we didn't have more time.  I would have liked to see my cousins who live in Beaverton - I just looked it up and am really sad, since we passed so close to them on this trip - and our schedule just didn't work to hook up with Greg's cousin Larry.  Next time we make a coastal trip (that's not all about geocaching), I'm going to make sure that we get more family visits in.

02 July, 2010

Family, Caching, and Hiking. Oh my!

Up early again today and it's Old Home Week (day) for Greg - all his comments were about how things have changed in the Portland area since he lived there years and years ago.  We met Greg's cousin Mike for breakfast.  It's always a pleasure to meet and spend time with family.
After spending an enjoyable morning (re)connecting with Mike, we headed to The Original Stash and to hook up with Aaron and Chachee.  The Original Stash is the first geocache that was ever hidden.  Since this is a weekend of cache-laden events, it's natural to find the first ever hide... and anything else that's in the surrounding area.  A short hike, searching a pile of cement rubble, opening hundreds of film canisters to find the one that has the log...  it's all fun, right?  =)
In addition to the caching, we hit Multnomah Falls (there are a couple caches there, too).  An absolutely beautiful waterfall, and an exhilarating hike.  Of course, I was the slowest in our group - I appreciate the patience of my companions.  My being out of shape was part of the problem, compounded by my sense of vertigo.  It's kinda crazy when you know logically that you're not going to spontaneously lose control, roll down the mountain and die just because you're close to the edge of the trail, but you still get the panic - shallow breathing, intense fear, paralysis, sweating like crazy, crying like a baby, etc.  I walked on the inside of the trail (changing sides with every switchback), leaning my head and upper body up the slope the entire way to the top.  But I made it to the top, and only cried like a baby once.
The path was level and well-traveled, and the views (from nowhere close to the edge) were spectacular.  We actually have a piece of artwork - that will someday be back on the walls, when we're done with the remodel project - that depicts Multnomah Falls.  A lovely day, an energizing hike, and some great company.  Who could ask for anything more?
What you don't see in the picture above is that I'm gripping the railing (as if that's going to stop the whole platform from toppling down the side of the mountain).  I'm surprised there weren't imprints of my hands when we finished, and I have no idea what the view is like from there, except back towards stable land, and the big tree that I used to focus when the panic and tears would start.  =)  We ended the day by stopping in Tillamook, Oregon for super-fresh ice cream and then heading out to our hotel room.  We stayed in Netarts, a quaint little seaside village.  The room wasn't much aside from the view, which was spectacular.
On tap for tomorrow: lighthouse excursion and the geocaching luau.  Good night!

01 July, 2010

GeoWoodstock, Sheri, and all that Jazz...

The onset of this trip was fraught with stress.  Somehow I misread the departure/arrival times for our flight and thought we were leaving for Seattle at 5pm and arriving at 9pm on Wednesday (06/30) - instead we left at 1:30pm and arrived at 5:50pm, a WORLD of difference for us and for Sheri (who picked us up).  I took Greg to work (at 4am!), went back to sleep intending to get up at 8:30am, and woke in a panic at 10am - when I was supposed to be picking Greg up from work (so we could get food before going to the airport).  An hour late, we were on the way directly to the airport instead - sans breakfast.  It worked out okay - made it through security, met Aaron for lunch at Chili's, got to the gate a few minutes before they started boarding...  and we're on our way!!
I got pictures of two new vending machines I'd never seen before: Best Buy, where you can get iPods and games; and a lottery vending machine.  The trip to Seattle is going to be a whirlwind - is there any other kind of trip when Greg's around?  I call it the trip to Seattle, but we're actually not going to spend much time there (if we go at all).  We arrived at SeaTac last night, had dinner in the Renton area (Olive Garden, YUM!), then headed down to Portland to spend the night there.  Got some tasty beverages for the road.  Of course I had to have my Rock Star, but we found a new one we just had to try.  It's actually pretty tasty - although you might never guess by the name: Kickapoo Joy Juice, the Original Dogpatch Recipe.

Early this morning, we left our comfortable beds at the O_EL to get breakfast with one of Greg's cousins, then meet friends to do some geocaching.  The main purpose of this trip is to attend GeoWoodstock - a major geocaching event, where loads of people are descending on the area to... get together and cache?  Something like that.  I'm a day behind in my post - haven't covered anything from today, but it's midnight here and we're going to be starting early again tomorrow.  So I'll leave you tonight with some teasers...