random

On working from home

Made it to the end of my first Work From Home day of this however-long-it’s-going-to-be span.

Still managed to get an Arm Day in without going to the gym thanks to my old workout DVDs which I thankfully did not get rid of once I quit using them. (I do also have them ripped to a flash drive… somewhere… but this was more efficient for now.) Super excited to run tomorrow since it’s one of my few spots of “normalcy” in all of this. Also super glad that I run so early that no one in their right mind would be out and about, so I’m still technically isolated out there.

As you may have seen from the photo I shared this morning, I got my home workspace set up. The cats are very confused about why I’m spending the whole day at home and none of it on the couch with them.

Without any of my usual on-campus errands, my step count is suffering quite a bit. Though I’ve also taken a couple of short walks in the neighborhood which was nice. Even still, I’m sitting at about 5400 steps as I write this, when I’d normally be pushing 10k steps by now. Maybe I just need to do some jumping jacks or something whenever I get up to use the bathroom.

Anyway, I could totally get used to this.

“Why are these things here, and why are you not on the couch?” – Arthur & Owen

I have a… nice ass?

Okay, it’s Wednesday. Which means it’s my weekly Beer Night, when I meet up with a bunch of other tech folks from the U at a local bar for pool and beers. Now that the sun is setting later, the sun can be a problem when playing at our preferred pool table. So I went out to the patio to pull down the sun shade which directly impacts said table.

Because the tool for pulling down this shade has gone missing, this means standing on a chair to turn a threaded mechanism by hand. So I do so as I’ve done many times before. Then I start sensing an… unusual… vibe from another table out on the patio. I look over to see a couple who now has caught me looking at them. The guy points at his lady friend and says, “She says you have a nice ass!” I smile politely thinking maybe they’re just drunk despite the early hour, then he says “She wants you to get up on you tippy toes!” I decided to play along and stood up on my toes – which resulted in giddy and (I think) slightly embarrassed laughter from both of them.

My friends were aware that something out of the norm had occurred but did not know what. I filled them in on the story, we had a good laugh, and I thought that was that. It was then my shot, so I went to deal with that but noticed one of my friends reacting to something out on the patio. After finishing my turn, I asked what I’d missed.

They said the waitress – who was filling in for our usual waitress – had come over to the couple’s table and commented that someone had figured out how to lower the shade. Apparently their response was something along the lines of “Yeah, that guy with the nice ass over there pulled it down!”

So, yeah. Thank you strange couple for the ego boost. That felt really good and was a lot of fun.

Apparently, this is a nice ass…

Ninety-five…

Things have been kind of crazy for the last bit, but I hit the 95-pounds-lost mark yesterday. I’m down a touch more today, which means I now weigh less than the weight listed on my high school driver’s license.

So what have I been up to since I last wrote? I’ve done more hiking, run a couple more races (the Jim Click Run & Roll 8k and the Great Pumpkin 5k), played an orchestra concert, and generally been keeping myself way busier than I’m generally accustomed to being.

Speaking of the orchestra concert…. I bought a new tux this summer. And by the time last weekend’s concert rolled around, the new pants wouldn’t stay up and I had to go find some suspenders (braces for you Brits) between the dress rehearsal and concert!

Just for giggles, here’s a tux progress photo.

Left to Right: January 2019, April 2019, October 2019

Also, this morning I discovered that my Garmin has calculated my V02 Max to be 47, and says my fitness age is that of an “excellent 20 year old”.

I’m really just excited that the pointer has edged into the blue zone.

And because I can’t figure out whose body my phone shopped my head onto at the gym this morning, today’s photo from my r/loseit challenge team’s “pics or you didn’t gym” channel.

I don’t know who this is any more.

So what’s next? Well, I’m less than eleven pounds from Ultimate Goal Weight now, so I’ll keep plugging away at that. I’ve got a couple of UGW rewards planned which I’m super excited about whenever I get there. I’ll be attempting my second “real” half-marathon on November 2nd, so I’ll keep plugging away at training for that. (I don’t really count the A-Mountain half that I walked a few years back.) I’d like to get in another hike or two in on Mount Lemmon before it gets too cold up there, and hopefully catch some pretty fall leaf colors in the process.

As always, thanks for reading. Until next time!

Looking way, way back…

So this weekend I decided it was safe to put all my jackets away. I think we’re past any last “cold snap”. Of course, I’m well aware I’m jinxing… something… by even saying that. But still, this was my thought process which brought me to writing this entry. So there we are.

As I moved items from my coat rack to the coat closet, I noticed my high school letter jacket hanging in the back of said closet. My curiosity got the best of me, and I tried it on. And you know what? It fit! I’d even say it was roomy. When I did up all the snaps, I would have been comfortable wearing a couple of layers underneath it were our temperatures not in the 80s. I think the last time I tried it on I just barely got the bottom snaps to connect if I sucked in my gut real good.

Then I got to thinking back because I couldn’t figure out the physics of how a coat purchased for (what I thought was) 160ish-pound-me was snug on 180something-pound-me, but roomy on 205-pound-me. So I started going through any old weight records I might have to try to figure that out.

The last time I lost weight – during which I started this blog – my lowest recorded weight in MFP was 189 in early November of 2014. I’m not too shocked that now-me fit into the coat better than late-2014-me because the clothes I’m wearing every day now are the same ones I was wearing then, despite now-me being a good 15 pounds heavier. Then again I’m also still doing strength work now, and I’d pretty much quit that and was only running for exercise then. I’m guessing my muscle to fat ratio is better than it was back then, but I’ve never really had that measured.

Then I went back to the next earliest time I really tried to lose weight, which would’ve been over the summer of 1999. I happened to still have an old AppleWorks spreadsheet in my computer’s archives from tracking that time, which ends I think in August 1999 with me getting from about 210 down to 200 pounds. So that would’ve roughly been my college Senior Recital weight. That was done solely by taking Metabolife. Remember that stuff? Also remember how it started giving major athletes heart attacks and killing them and stuff? Yeah. Fun times.

So what about way back in high school when that letter jacket was purchased? I thought I would’ve been in the 160s at that time, but I couldn’t be sure. Then I remembered that I still have my driver’s license from 1994, which would have that weight – or at least a very timely ballpark figure – printed on it. And that number? 185 pounds. So it’s safe to assume I was in the 180-185 pound range when that jacket was purchased, and it was meant to be a little roomy since that was the style at the time. Mystery solved.

Oh. You’re all probably wanting proof of this whole thing, yeah? Well, if you’ve read this far I suppose you deserve a reward. So here it is:

A 42-year-old in a high school letter jacket.

Bust That Cycle

It’s been over a decade since he first posted this video, but I’m still grateful to zefrank for the concept of “bust that cycle”.  I’m going to start you with that video for reference.  He gets to cycle busting at about the 1:00 mark, but I’ll go ahead and quote the important bit for those who don’t want to watch the video.  (There is an f-bomb in there later, for those sensitive to that sort of thing.)

“Busting your cycle is where you take one aspect of your life that’s more or less constant and you purposely bust it. By temporarily breaking a routine, you can often experience the world in a very different way. If you bust the right cycle, this shift in perspective can often lead to elation and a sense of possibility.”

So I’ve been trying to bust some cycles lately.  Probably the most obvious would be the whole gym thing.  I was trying to bust my cycles of “not being a gym person” and having fallen out of the habit of doing strength training at home.  That seems to be working pretty well, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve just begun my third week working out there.  Since this was my first gym-weekend when I didn’t have to get to orchestra rehearsals or concerts pretty much right after exercising, I decided to do bust another cycle while I was there this morning.

My membership includes access to these “total body enhancement pods” which look kind of like vertical tanning beds – but I am assured they’re not tanning beds.  (Those are in the next room over.)  I look at these with incredulity every time I walk by, probably mostly because I just don’t “get it” and usually don’t have the time to care.  Today, I decided to give it a go because I had time to spare and… well… what the hell?

So I signed up for the next available time slot, bought a pair of tanning goggles (they require you to have them even though this is not a tanning apparatus), and was escorted to the room containing my weird pod thingy.  Left alone I stripped down to my shorts, put on the goggles, climbed in, shut the door, and hit the “start” button.  Bright lights surrounded me as fans in the ceiling activated.  There are also handles on the ceiling, which an electronic voice prompts you to hold to help with stability.  Then the floor starts to vibrate while generic electronic music is piped in through the speakers.  And…. you stand there.  For like 10 minutes.  Then it all stops, you get out, get dressed, and go on with your life.

red light therapy?

This is my “I just spent 10 minutes in a bright, vibratey tube with fans blowing on my head and generic electronic music playing at me because reasons” face.

I still don’t really understand what it was supposed to do for me and I certainly didn’t feel anything but a bit foolish when it was done.  Some web searching after getting home tells me that these pods use what they call “red light therapy“, which I guess is actually a thing, and there’s apparently research out there stating that it’s beneficial to skin health, weight loss and… stuff.  So maybe I’ll give it a few more tries before writing it off.  I mean, since I’m already paying for the… privilege?

Then I decided to try one of the massage chairs.  (Another benefit with my membership.) At first I really wasn’t sure what to think about being molested by what otherwise appeared to be a comfy chair.  This, on the other hand, is something I could probably get used to and can actually see myself taking advantage of on a more regular basis.

massage chair reaction

This is my “this chair is kinda handsy and I think I’m starting to like it” face.

In other cycle busting news, I’m trying to be (a little) more socially active and (slightly) less hermit-like.  I have learned that Bookman’s has a monthly cookbook club where they choose a cookbook then everyone chooses recipes from it to make and bring to the next meeting.  And I’ve just joined it.  I wasn’t able to make it to their first meeting which was last night, but I’m signed up for next month.  So that’ll be a thing to watch for here.

And once again, I’ve written way more than I originally intended.  So if you’ve made it all the way through, congratulations and thanks for reading.

Final Chantix thoughts, Housecleaning.

I really can’t express enough how glad I am to finally be finished with Chantix.  I was fortunate to not experience any negative side effects beyond a few really nasty dreams and three months without any truly restful sleep.  On a whim, I decided to check out my stress levels as recorded by my Garmin tracker and compare the two periods, and the difference is staggering.

This first image compares my stress levels on average Wednesdays.  On the left are my stress levels while I was on Chantix.  Levels on the right are about one week after finishing it.

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And here are similar stats but from two different Sundays, which are largely spent hanging out on the couch with the cats.  Again the left is while on Chantix, the right is about a week after finishing.

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So, yeah.  I’m not just imagining feeling better.  But it’s nice to have that visual proof as well.  And it certainly helps explain how “on edge” I felt for those three months.  While I’m sure some of that was simply from quitting smoking, I think the medication had a lot to do with it as well.

Also this past weekend I spent a lot of time cleaning up and rearranging my laundry room.  When I moved into the house almost two years ago, that was the “throw it in there and deal with it later” room.  I kept meaning to get around to reorganizing it but just kept… not.  To complicate matters when Wes was sick earlier this year, he apparently started peeing on the utility shelves in the corner.  Which I did not realize until it got warm and began to bake said pee into whatever was there.

I had taken a half day at work on Friday and wasn’t sure what to do with myself when the bug to do something about that room finally bit.  Mostly because it’s not air conditioned and those damn shelves were making the whole house smell like cat pee as the room heated up during the day.  So I cleared off and disinfected the shelves, then pulled back the rug so I could move the shelves out and clean behind them.  That was when I discovered that Wes had also peed on the rugs.  A lot.*  So those went out to the dumpster – because ew – and Project: Organize The Shelves suddenly became Project: Reorganize The Laundry Room And Mop All The Things, which took pretty much all afternoon and evening.

So here’s the fun part: before and after pictures!

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Most of the boxes on those bottom two shelves in the “after” photo are empty.  They’re just filling space to hopefully keep Wes from trying to pee there again.  Over the weekend, I also ended up taking 47 pounds of paper (those boxes on the left side of “before”) to be shredded.  The room already feels way better, and no longer reeks of cat pee.

I still have to organize the tool table, which is located behind the door and is not pictured. Most of that stuff will likely go into the white cabinets in the photos, which I also cleared out of a bunch of junk that was left by the previous homeowners. Also not pictured is the massive box of “donation” stuff which has been sitting in there since I unpacked after the move, waiting for me to re-pack it into smaller, more manageable boxes and get it out of the house.  And I’d like to move a bunch of drums and stuff from the music room onto those corner shelves.  But those are maybe projects for this weekend.

*None of your stuff got peed on, Daphna.  I checked.

a 30-year dream

Yes, it’s been a while yet again. I’m still working on rebuilding those healthy habits and re-eliminating the bad ones. But being better doesn’t only apply to physical wellness. Mental and emotional wellness are also large parts of it – and parts that I tend to ignore.

I recently did some math and discovered that I had 17.5 days of surplus vacation time that I’ll need to use by the end of the year or I’ll lose them. So I scheduled a week off and took a road trip to finally realize a dream that I’ve had for 30 years – to visit Carlsbad Caverns. I’ve wanted to go there ever since I first learned about the park in my 4th grade science class, and the trip did not disappoint.  Fair warning, I’m using this post as a sort of travelogue for this trip.  It is likely to be rather lengthy.

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I hit the road Sunday afternoon, making it to Carlsbad, NM that evening. Somewhere around Benson I realized that I had failed to pack one of my flannels.  While the outside temperatures of the locations I was planning to visit are similar to Tucson’s, the Carlsbad Caverns website suggested bringing a light jacket as the temperature inside the cave system is rather cool year-round.  So I stopped at The Thing tourist trap outside Willcox and picked up one of those woven Mexican “ponchos” (they call them ponchos but they’re really just hoodies) that were so popular back in the mid to late 1990s for $10.  Teenage Me had always wanted one and now Middle-aged M
e has one. Any way. I checked into the hotel and had a rather uneventful night.

Got up early Monday morning, had a cup of coffee and apastry from the hotel lobby, and drove out to the Caverns.

My initial plan as I devised this trip was to just go and stick to the two self-guided areas (the Natural Entrance route and the Big Room loop). Before I left town, however, I decided I should go ahead and buy tickets to at least one of the guided tours since there’s no telling how long it’ll be before I get back again.  Or if I ever will.  So I got online to see what was available for the one day I was planning to be in the park.  There was one ticket (out of 12) remaining for the Lower Cave tour ($20) first thing in the morning, and multiple options for the King’s Palace tours ($8) which take place throughout the day.  So I bought tickets for both of those tours before leaving home, and boy am I glad I did.

IMG_3245I got to the park a a few minutes before the visitor center doors opened so I had a little time to enjoy the view from the top of the hill on which the visitor center is situated. When the doors opened I bought my general admission ticket ($10) and picked up the tickets for both of my tours, then had a little more time to wander through the museum before they announced that it was time for the Lower Cave tour group to meet up. According to the website this tour is limited to 12 people, and I got the last available ticket. At the time of, there were only six of us. (Well, eight if you count Rangers Christina and Landis. Which I do.) I have no idea what happened to the other six people, but they didn’t show. We sat through a short orientation, were given gloves, hardhats, and headlamps, and took the elevator down into the cave.

Apparently that was also a big deal. It seems the elevators had been out of service since November and had only just re-opened. We were one of the first Lower Cave tours that got to take the elevator down rather than having to hike the Natural Entrance trail before actually starting our tour.

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I’m not going to lie to you, Marge. I was pretty nervous about this one. You see, this tour starts with using a knotted rope to descend a slick roughly 45° angle rock slope. And then there are three ladders you have to climb down. Of course, just as I got to the bottom of that last ladder I realized that I left my “poncho” in my car which was parked 800 and something feet above my head. That turned out not to be a big deal at all as between the humidity level and our activity level, I was soon dripping sweat like nobody’s business.

So, back to the tour. There are no paved paths, no hand rails, just strips of orange tape outlining where you’re allowed to walk. And strips of red and white striped tape indicating exceptionally fragile places where you’re especially not allowed to walk. One of the first things we saw was a lovely drip-pond. I tried to get some photos of it but my phone’s camera just didn’t do it justice with our meager headlamps. We got to see some great deposits of cave pearls real up close and personal-like, and were passing within inches of stalagmites and stalactites. I can’t tell you how tempting it was to reach out and touch them, but self-control prevailed. (Touching cave formations can damage them. General rule is HANDS OFF.)

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It was amazing to be so close to such gorgeous formations, and with such a small group of people. And the cave was incredibly active. We were dripped on pretty regularly for much of the tour. The rangers even said that the Lower Cave hadn’t been this active in quite some time. I know it’s silly, but I kind of like to think the cavern was putting on a special show just for me. It was a much more intimate experience with the cave than I could have ever imagined.

Because our group was able to move so quickly due to being half the size of most groups on this tour, the rangers were able to take us down a couple of different side-paths where most tours only get to go to one place or the other. And then they told us about another path that they don’t get to take very often because they can only take 10 people – including both of the rangers – through at a time, and wanted to know if we wanted to try it even though it would be a little more challenging with some climbing and crawling, and would add a bit more time to our planned 3-hour journey. Of course, we were all game. The rangers weren’t wrong – it was quite the challenge. And totally worth it.

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In one of the larger areas, we all sat down on the floor of the cave and switched off our lights. I’ve been in some dark spaces before but I can’t say I remember ever experiencing a darkness so total. And then we sat in silence for a couple of minutes. You don’t realize how much sound we’re surrounded by until you’re in a place where there isn’t any. I found myself closing my eyes to better experience the silence then realizing that I didn’t need to block any visual stimuli as the darkness was so complete.

 

Eventually we made it back to the ladders and climbed up to the rest area level before taking the elevator back topside. I took advantage of the lack of humidity above-ground to dry off and go grab my water bottle from the car as I was rather thirsty. I then had just enough time to get back down to the underground rest area to meet the group for my King’s Palace tour. Ranger Christina did tell me I might want the “poncho” for the King’s Palace tour as there’s a lot of sitting on that one and people do get chilly.

IMG_3190This time I chose to hike the Natural Entrance path back down into the cave. I didn’t stop to stare at as much as I really would have liked, as I did not want to be late for my tour group. Compared to the morning tour, however, this was a cakewalk. And while the Natural Entrance provided a much more impressive sense of scale, it also felt much less personal. And about half way down, I realized I’d once again forgotten my “poncho” in the car. And once again, I really didn’t need it after all.

I made it to the rest area with about 20 minutes to spare so I got in line for some food, as I suddenly realized I was famished. An overpriced ham and cheese sandwich never tasted so good. I finished my lunch just in time to meet the King’s Palace tour group and our Ranger guide. (I’m sorry, I do not remember his name.) There were probably around 40 people on this tour. So, yeah. A much larger group. And just the one ranger, as this tour is all along clearly marked, paved, lit paths, often with handrails.

The rooms we visited on this tour were stunning both in the sheer volume of the space and the number and styles of formations present. They did seem to be having some electrical issues in this section as some banks of lights were not on. Also, we passed a few electricians trying to figure out whatever the problem was. So I will likely take this tour again if I make it back so I can see what I may have missed.

IMG_3207Once again, in one of the rooms the Ranger had us all sit down while he switched off the lights in the chamber. He tried to get the group to observe a moment of silence but as I’m sure you can imagine, getting a group of 40 tourists to STFU can be a challenge. He then invited us to fire up our own light sources to see what we could see. I tried to imagine how different this moment would have been had I been there at a time when everyone smoked and therefore had sources of fire instead of cell phones with LEDs flashes and bright screens.

After the King’s Palace tour finished, I took my time wandering the Big Room loop. Without the distractions of needing to be careful about where I was stepping or placing my hands, or needing to listen to a guide, I was able to just walk and take it all in. I got rather misty more than a couple of times as the immensity of where I was really began to sink in. At least, when I wasn’t surrounded by large families full of whining children.

I’m really glad I decided to purchase those tour tickets, as the Natural Entrance and Big Room self-guided tours would not have filled my day. I’m also beyond thankful that the day went from a small, intimate tour group to a larger group, to free-range wandering with the unwashed masses. It kind of made it feel like these were *my* caves, not just some place I decided to go see on a whim.

IMG_3189Eventually, I made my way back up to ground level and the visitor’s center. I still had a couple of hours before the Bat Flight – which there was no way in Hell I was going to miss – so I went to the restaurant where I ordered a panino (which was still cold in the middle, but I was too tired to do anything about it), enjoyed sitting still for a while, read a book, and tooled around the gift shop where I purchased a nice Carlsbad Caverns hat before making my way to the Bat Amphitheater where another Ranger (again, I’m sorry, I do not recall his name) talked about the bats, the cave sparrows, and the story of how Jim White discovered the site while we waited for the bats to make their appearance. When they did appear, it was absolutely mesmerizing watching them swirl at break-neck speeds around the mouth of the cave before swarming off in search of whatever the night would bring them. Most likely water and bugs.

In all, this was one of the most fulfilling days I’ve had in a very long time. I can’t remember the last time I felt so satisfied.

I made my way back to my car as night began to fall in full and headed for Roswell. (Another place that I’ve been wanting to get to for years.) In retrospect, this was not one of my better ideas. I was really too exhausted to be making that drive. But I’d already checked out of my room in Carlsbad and had a reservation on another room waiting for me in Roswell, so drive I did. It was after 11pm by the time I got to the hotel. The clerk was very kind and upgraded me to a double room at no extra charge because the beds had memory-foam mattresses. I’d never slept on one before. It was interesting, but I don’t think I’d like that as my usual bed.

IMG_3246A friend had recommended the Cowboy Cafe in Roswell so my plan was to hit that for breakfast Tuesday morning, spend a couple of hours checking out the cheesy alien tourist trap places, then head home with a stop at White Sands.

The Cowboy Cafe was quite good. Large portions of pretty standard diner fare at decent prices. After breakfast, I found some on-street parking near Main & 2nd around 8am. All three main attractions are about a half a block away from that intersection.

Now, all the research I did online said the International UFO Museum opened at 8am and the Spacewalk and Area 51 “attractions” opened at 9. The internet was wrong. The museum doesn’t open until 9 and the other two places not until 10. So I wandered around the area looking for open gift shops, as I needed a new shirt. I didn’t notice until I put it on in the hotel that one of the shirts I’d packed had been eaten full of holes by something. So I tossed it in the trash and had put on my travel shirt from Sunday. I needed something clean, but not too pricey. Eventually found a shirt I liked for about $16. I also picked up a little green bendy alien toy who is now stuck to one of the A/C vents in my car.

IMG_3265The International UFO Museum ($5 admission) was pretty interesting. It is largely devoted to the whole Roswell UFO crash of 1947. There are lots of newspaper articles and redacted government documents all over the walls along one half of the museum. The other half is more devoted to UFO lore in general. I spent about an hour there, and I didn’t read absolutely every piece of information on every wall. They also were showing a film at 10am, so I decided to sit in on that. Except it turned out it was the 1994 Kyle MacLachlan movie Roswell. I really wasn’t interested in sitting in a less-than-comfortable chair for 90 minutes so I bailed on that. I’ll find it on Amazon Prime or something and watch it from the comfort of my recliner.

From there, I made my way to the Spacewalk. It’s a cordoned-off area in the back of one of the alien-themed gift shops. It’ll cost you $2 to get into the blacklight art installation, and maybe a minute or so to walk through it. I did snap a nifty photo that I think will make interesting wallpaper on my phone. I just haven’t tried it yet. After that, it was off to Area 51 Museum in the Alien Zone. Again, a cheesy set of photo ops in the back of another alien-themed gift shop. I believe this one costs $3 to get in. It was in pretty poor condition and I was rather limited as to what kind of photos I could take by myself, but I was in town so I’m glad I stopped in.

IMG_3267Next, I stopped at White Sands National Monument on my way back to Tucson. $5 got me into the park. While I could have purchased a plastic saucer from the gift shop for sledding down the dunes, I just wasn’t interested in spending the $17 (okay, $12 after the $5 buy-back when you’re done). And I was very much a lot not interested in driving the rest of the way home with shorts full of sand. So I satisfied myself with driving the park loop and stopping a couple of times to go wandering in the dunes. It’s really quite the surreal environment. The picnic areas felt like something out of a Kubrick film. And getting out into the middle of the dunes, away from the road and out of view of the mountains, I could have very easily convinced myself that I had entered a whole other world. I’m not entirely sure how long I spent there – maybe an hour or so. There was definitely a sparse beauty to the place.

Then I got back in the car and headed home, getting here around 8:30 Tuesday night. I’ve spent the rest of the week binging shows on Amazon Prime and being a bed for the cats. All in all, this vacation has been exactly what I needed. A little adventure, a healthy dose of something new, and a fair amount of Hermit Mode.

I think Carlsbad Caverns has gotten into my blood. I can’t stop thinking about getting to go back again some time. And since it’s only a six hour drive away, there’s really no reason I shouldn’t get back. I think I’d like to set the goal of eventually getting through all of the guided tours. There are a few that – according to their descriptions, at least – are even more intense than the Lower Cave tour. And I want to experience them.

Roswell was fun, but definitely not a destination spot. Now that I’ve been, I don’t feel the need to go again unless I’m with friends or family who haven’t been.

White Sands was added to the itinerary at the last minute and was kind of an afterthought. I saw it mentioned somewhere online recently and thought, “That’s kind of near where I’ll be, isn’t it?” Pulled up Google (all hail our dear and glorious leader) Maps and saw that it was, in fact, on my way back home from Roswell and decided I might as well check it out. Again, I wouldn’t call it a destination spot but it’s definitely worth seeing if you’re in the area.

And you know what else? That “poncho” is still in my car.

Here’s the full photo album from the trip.

As always, thanks for reading.

strange dreams

I really wasn’t sure where else to put something like this but I felt I needed to get it written down. So it will be going here.

I’ve been having a string of very strange quasi-recurring dreams lately. They always start with me being out on tour with Peter Paul & Mary’s backing band. As far as I can tell, PP&M aren’t actually touring – it’s just the backing band for some reason. I’m usually playing bass or guitar which is also odd given that I don’t actually play either of those instruments particularly well.

As we go along playing a string a shows, unusual things start to happen. I can’t recall any specifics but things in the dream environment just don’t feel “right”. The next thing I know, I’m fighting for my life – sometimes with the help of the backing bandmates, sometimes alongside some friends that I play pool with, and occasionally just on my own – against some apocalyptic force which is different every time I have the dream. Could be zombies. Could be robots. Could be vampires (no sparkly ones, thank you). Could be aliens. I don’t think I’ve encountered werewolves yet, but it’s honestly hard to say for sure. I think you get the idea, though.

Then I wake up. I never know if we won or not. Sometimes I get injured in the dream, other times it seems I’m the only one to come through unscathed. Last night at some point I fell wrong and broke my right shin bone but the one doctor in our group refused to set and splint it. A friend offered to do it instead and grabbed my leg to give it a yank into place. That’s when I woke this time.

I don’t think I would necessarily categorize these as nightmares. Just very strange dreams. And what’s the deal with the Peter Paul and Mary part?