Category Archives: fun stuff

Lost – but not the TV kind


On Saturday, The Girl, Rapunzel and I decided to go geocaching. I programmed some caches into the GPS, we packed a picnic lunch and off we went. We decided to do the easiest, single cache first, then stop for lunch, then hit as many of the other as we had time for. And, as is so often the case, fate got wind of our plans and said, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

We started off up a gravel path, headed for the cache. About halfway up, we had the typical question of “which way?” The GPS points you to the right coordinates as the crow flies, and since that straight line is often through impassible areas, it causes problems. Since we are not crows, nor can we fly, we have to try and figure out which path or trail is going to get us to where we need to go . Sometimes we guess correctly and sometimes some backtracking is required. This time it was the latter. Which is fine – we don’t mind a little extra hiking – it’s good exercise. But we were all a bit hungry and were anxious to get there so we could head back and eat.

Eventually, we reached the inevitable point where we would have to go off-trail. We bush-whacked our way to the general area and after the usual “OMG, we can’t find it” drama, we located the cache, made our trades, signed the log and patted ourselves on the back for being so awesome. Then it all went to shit. We had to climb out of a small ravine, which – the day after heavy rain – was slippery and muddy – at least when going up. I went first to pave the way for The Girl and proceeded to slip and start to fall. As I was falling, I grabbed and roots and branches to catch myself. And as I let go of one of those (sizable) branches, it snapped back and hot me in the face. Directly in the eye. Somehow I managed to not cry like a little baby and got up the bank. I pulled The Girl up and then Rapunzel came. As she was coming through, a large jagger branch swung towards her. I grabbed it to keep it from hitting her in the face. And it turned out to be the kind that releases its thorns. So I cane away with a handful of tiny, sharp splinters. Awesome.

Once I tended to my wounds, we headed out. And then – for the first time in all my years of playing in the woods – I got lost. Not lost, exactly, but I couldn’t find the place where we went off trail. I knew the direction of the trail, but we couldn’t get to it without going through thick, high brush. Clearly, there was a way, since that’s how we got there, but we could not find it. It didn’t help that we were all starving, plus The Girl was whining. Finally, we found a trail, but not the trail we were looking for. We had to decide which way to go. We chose the way that 1) looked like it would lead us to the original gravel path we were on before we backtracked to the dirt trail, and 2) went in the direction closest to the waypoint of the car. But between the whole “crow flies”/GPS issue and the crazy-ass, step-hilled, switchback nature of the trails? We chose wrong.

While we were never really lost since we were on a trail the entire time – it was exhausting and frustrating. And we were too far along on the trail to want to turn back. I knew we’d come out somewhere, but I was afraid of where that would be. We hiked for a LOOOONG time. And the last mile or so of the hike was all uphill. A HUGE hill. Every time the trail looked like it was leveling out, we came around a bend to see yet another steep climb ahead of us. By this time, I had a sinking feeling that I knew exactly where we were going to emerge from the woods and I was right. On a high-traffic state route with no sidewalks – making it a dangerous place to try and walk.

I was never so bummed to be right.

We were happy to be on the main road, but we knew we had another long hail ahead of us. A couple miles down DangerRoad to get to the park access road we needed. Then another mile or so down that road. Then two or more miles through the park (also not easy walking) to get to the car. All of us hungry and tired and lugging backpacks and a pissed off six year old.

Just before we headed off down DangerRoad, I noticed an elderly woman in her driveway across the street and I decided I had better verify that we were going in the right direction before we started walking. She told me we were and we talked for a few minutes. As I ran back across the street, her husband and sister-in-law pulled into the driveway t pick her up and she yelled over and asked if we would like a ride.

I debated a few seconds, because I really didn’t want to teach The Girl that it was OK to take rides from strangers, but quickly came to the conclusion that HELL YES we wanted a ride. I figured I’d talk to The Girl about it afterwards. So we piled in the car with them and spent the next 5 minutes on the most harrowing ride ever. The guy was pushing 90 and he drove not only like a 90 year old, but like an insane, homicidal, 90 year old who spent the morning smoking crack. Seriously – that ride was scarier than the entire lost-in-the-woods hike. Luckily, we made it intact to the head of a trail that led to our car and we only had to walk about a half mile or so to get there.

When we got there, we grabbed our blanket and cooler and got settled in for a picnic lunch. While we were eating we realized that, despite everything that happened, we actually had a really fun day. And a bonus? Food always tastes better after you narrowly avert death.

I Did It!


Let me start by saying that i never, EVER post photos of myself in a swimsuit, but this is too big not to. Try to erase the images from your minds when you’re done.

I jumped into the frigid Monongahela River on New Year’s Day and lived to tell about it. Hedge came over on New Year’s Eve and we spent the night drinking champagne and eating all kinds of good food, just in case it turned out to be our last meal. Then we got up when it was still dark out – on New Year’s Day. That may have been crazier than the actual river-jumping.


Too early to be up on New Year’s Day

Leading up to it, people kept saying we’d chicken out. But these people are dicks. Because once I say I’m doing it, I will do it. And besides – I really wanted to do it – I was actually looking forward to it. Of course, some of those people have heard me bitching about how cold it was in the house, in the restaurant, in someone else’s house, outside, in the car, in the office, in the mall, the store, another restaurant and several more houses. See – I hate the cold, so I guess it makes sense that I wouldn’t want to jump in the river. Back when we had a pool, if the water was less that mid-80s, I thought it was cold. Because of that, I’ll give those naysayers a pass.

We got to the Mon Wharf pretty early – there were only a few cars there. We walked around a bit, looking for The Crappys and checking out the river. We saw some insane brave folks walking around in bathrobes and flip-flops, but we stayed bundled up for the time being.

Still-empty lot

We can’t even believe we’re jumping in there

Pretty soon, the place started filling up with cars and people – some were obvious jumpers – they had robes and towels and crazy looks in their eyes. Other were clearly observers, wearing jeans and earmuffs and gloves and looks on non-crazy contentment.

Pretty soon, The Crappys showed up, and the tailgating began as more folks trickled in. There was some “special” hot coffee, but Hedge and I both passed on the theory that if we got all warm and toasty it would feel worse when we went in.

Some of the group

Slowly, We started to get ready – we put on our swim caps, and they were quite beautiful. We got them for fun, but they turned out to be an awesome anti-cold measure – they kept our hair dry – I’m not a won’t-get-my-head-wet kind of girl, but my years of swim team taught me that wet hair+ cold air = frozen head and a chill that’s hard to shake. Plus, the caps were pretty thick rubber and actually kept our heads warm like hats would.

Next, we took our coats off, so we could start to get used to the cold (though admittedly, the air temperature was not too bad – had the jump been yesterday, I would have died. I’m sure the adrenaline and nerves over the crazy thing you’re about to do helps a little, too, though. At this point, you start to think, OK, let’s just get this show in the road – waiting for jump time is nerve-wracking.

Finally, it was time to move the party up to the water’s edge. Hedge and I came up with a genius idea for getting warm after we got out of the water – we bought a shitload of Hot Hands hand warmers and we wrapped comforters up with them tucked inside. Then we put both comforters in a big plastic tote. We did this before we left the house at 7:00, so by 9:00, the tote was actually warm to the touch. So we dragged the tote and a couple of towel with us to the water and got ready. First, the pants came off. Then a few minutes later, the shirts. Then we died and froze the end.


OK, not really, but when I said it wasn’t TOO cold, I was right – as long as you were wearing clothes and a coat. In a bathing suit? COOOOOOOOOOLD.

After a couple of minutes, we heard the “GO!” and people started jumping. Hedge and I waited until someone in front of us got out, because we didn’t want to jump too near anyone else – we wanted to avoid any accidental elbowing or other minor things that would be no big deal under normal conditions, but in these conditions might contribute to our deaths.

Getting ready to jump

Once the guy ahead of us got out, we held hands and jumped.

We were like, “OK, on three. One, Two…” and then we forgot how to count and just jumped

Going under

Also – this is about the time that The Grimace took up residence on my face. The Grimace was an involuntary facial contortion that in no way represented how I was feeling. I was happy – thrilled in fact, that I had just done it. But my face was saying “Shoot me now!” I was trying to smile and trying to thank @pgha for being our photographer, but my body would not let me. No, my body was all Grimace! Try To Breathe! (Did I mention that jumping in water that cold takes your breath away? It does.)

The beginning of The Grimace


We got to the shore and the next challenge was getting out. It’s a challenge because the “shore” is actually steeply slanted concrete – under the water it’s slippery, and out of the water, it’s high and steep and there’s nothing to grab onto. Plus – lead muscles. Luckily, I looked up and saw an angel – in the form of a swim-suited, be-toweled man – reaching out to help me out. He pulled me out of the water before I died and I wanted to thank him, but see: Grimace. Getting out was great, but once I was out, the cold wind hit me and I forgot all about hedge – she could have been drowning behind me, but all my body would allow me to do was a) Grimace and b) run for the warm blankets. Luckily, the Angel saved her, too.

Still Grimacing

My Angel – dude – if you are reading – THANK YOU!

Holy Grimace!

Hasn’t died, despite my lack of giving a shit at that moment

We got to the tote, threw it open and pulled on our warm blankets and immediately felt great. I wasn’t cold thanks to the blankets and my warm, dry head. The Grimace faded, and I was finally able to say thanks to @pgha, who very sweetly kept taking photos. We stood around and watched some of the other folks jumping, climbing, freezing (I don’t know that anyone else was Grimacing quite the way I was, though)

Happy and warm – relatively

So happy we did it

Once everyone had plunged, we headed back to the parking lot to drink warm up and get out of our wet swimsuits. And let me tell you – when you have just jumped into a freezing river and are standing in the freezing cold with wind chill, modesty goes right out the window. I imagine that no less than 6 people are scarred for life after getting a glimpse of me trying to change under a blanket next to my car.

We put on some warm clothes, thick socks and slippers, and headed to the Hard Rock for some much needed food and a drink or two – mojitos for Hedge and me.

It was a great time, and I plan on doing it every year now – it’s an awesome way to start off the new year.

Awesome folks

More awesome folks

And more awesome folks

Still more awesome folks

Now this is the part where I tell you what a jackass I am. Here’s the thing with me and blogs, twitter, plurk, etc. I “meet” people online – I like them, I talk to them, it’s great. Then, I go somewhere and see these same people in person and I turn into a complete idiot. I am not a shy person – in fact, I am outgoing. If they were all strangers, I would have no problems. But somehow, since I sort of “know” them already, I get all weird. There are the folks that I “know” online, but don’t realize who they are when I meet them. There are the ones I suspect I know who they are, but I feel weird asking – I think that it is part of the “I’m old and out of touch and they won’t know me anyway because I am not a rock star like them” complex that I seem to have (and guys – if you happen to be reading this – you ARE rock stars – every single one of you).

So, I sit back and think, is that so and so? Oh, wait, maybe that’s so and so. And I don’t introduce myself and probably come off as an unfriendly douchebag and then I kick myself for days afterward because I really like these people! And I love meeting new people. And we just had a great time together. And yet I douchily let the opportunity to put faces with names pass because I have some weird old-lady inferiority complex.

So maybe I talked to you briefly, or maybe I took your photo, or maybe I don’t know your name even thought I met you once before and douchily didn’t introduce myself then either, or maybe you took photos for me, or maybe I shared some hot hands with you, or maybe I stood next to you while we waited, or maybe I was near you in the group photo, or maybe you complimented my swim cap, or maybe I just stupidly smiled (or Grimaced) at you. But if you read this – know that I am not as douchey as I seemed – I was thrilled to spend that time and that great experience with all of you. YOU ARE ALL AWESOME! And if you are reading this and have a minute, leave me a comment and introduce yourself, so I can finally know exactly who all you awesome folks are. And next year (or hopefully before then) when I see you all again, I promise I won’t be such a jackass.

I can’t promise I won’t Grimace again, though, because that shit is cold