Archive for the ‘Trying New Things’ Category

My Unmisspent Youth

November 1, 2010

We interrupt the normally scheduled recounting of my frolics on stage doing “The Producers” in order to recapture another summer event . . .We will return to our normally scheduled theater blogging next time.

I may have mentioned before on these pages that I led a very vanilla and unremarkable youth and early adult life.  I was the good kid.  Didn’t get in trouble.  Didn’t even do stuff that should have gotten me in trouble.

As I enter this phase of my life, I’ve wanted to not only explore new and fun things, but recapture some of those things I should have done when younger.

One of those is the purchase of a motorcycle.

My cousin had a dirt bike that I was allowed to ride a few times in the fields behind his house.  It was great fun…until it got stolen.

My sister-in-law bought a big bike (I honestly don’t remember what, but it was 750cc-ish) and, on a visit back when I was around 19 years old, was allowed to take it out for a morning wander through the plains of Montana.  Again, great fun and freedom.

But, between a limited budget (having this silly penchant for wanting to learn to fly) and life just rolling on, I never indulged in actually getting my own bike.  Oh, that and my ex- and I would’ve likely had an all out brouhaha over my decision (which, in retrospect, would likely have been very good for my psyche and led me down a different life path).

So, now, it is my turn to play.  This spring, along with Dear Friend, I took a motorcycle safety class.  The end result of this class was that passing it counted as passing the state driving test.  Yeeha!!  And, it stoked a fire to actually get a bike to ride.

Commiserating with friends and colleagues, plus having to roll back expectations in order to fit it into my budget, I settled on a 2000 Honda Shadow 750cc.  She’s beautiful.

tucked away safely in the garage

After a few hours practice over the course of a week, done behind the Lowe’s shopping plaza near my place, I was ready to hit the road.

Ex.  Hil.  Er.  Ation!!!

But the big thrill came on my third ride out on the roads when I became recognized as being “In The Club”.  Motorcycle riders will, on passing another motorcyclist going in the opposite direction, remove their left hand from the handlebars and flash a wave… outstretched hand or a clenched fist or (in my case) a peace sign (a good summary found here).  All are acknowledgment that we are a small, unique group (albeit most MUCH more experienced and worthy than I).

So, on a back road, when oncoming motorcyclist initiated this salute to me, I was luckily stable enough (mentally, emotionally, gravimetrically) to return my own salute.

…and I laughed out loud in my helmet, grinning like a fool…

James Dean… Marlon Brando… Peter Fonda… GnuKid!!

the gnu wild bunch

Pura Vida

June 28, 2010

“Pure Life”

That’s the catch phrase in my most recent adventure location, Costa Rica.  Basically, it’s used to express when something is great or awesome.  Or, ‘this is the reason we live’.

And the trip was pretty much that…Pura Vida.

The local dive shop where I got my diving certification regularly schedules diving trips.  This has multiple purposes – – to entice those who don’t dive to consider because of the cool locations they go…to get those already diving to buy more stuff at the store to go on the trip…and, the best one, the shop’s dive sponsor gets a free vacation.  Pretty damn good.

This was a slightly different trip in that, besides the diving, there were multiple site seeing and adventure side trips.  I took a chance on it.

The diving?  Not so great visibility, so that sort of lessened the enjoyment of the 10 dives we did.  But we did see some cool stuff.  I swam within 15 feet of 7 white tipped reef sharks, who are not too dangerous, but still made me clench up a bit*.  I found an octopus scurrying across the coral.  There were puffer fish galore, as well as at least 4 moray eels each dive**.  We saw a seahorse, tiny and delicate, hovering in a coral sanctuary.  I saw the tail and shadow of a body of a bull shark (more aggressive) some 30 feet away.  I found a shark’s tooth on the ocean bottom.  I dove the Pacific, adding to the bodies of water I can now make that claim.

The land adventures?  Also very cool.

–  We ran a zip line jungle canopy tour. That’s where they’ve strung wire cable between tree tops and you zip from one tree to another strapped in a harness hooked to the wire.  The shortest was about a hundred feet.  The longest?  About a quarter mile…and we were flying when we got to the end of that one.  And howler monkeys yelling at us most of the way.

–  We visited an active volcano, Arenal.  (Un)fortunately, the lava flows were on the side of the mountain away from us.  Still, I saw the edge of a lava flow one mini-eruption at night.  And the beast belched and rumbled off and on throughout the day.

–  We took a river tour and tortured and teased crocodiles in the water.

–  We went white water rafting (yes, in a different river than the crocodiles this time).

Here are a few pictures, a couple stolen from fellow trip adventurers – –

Damn impressive, especially when rumbling

That's a moray...that's a moray...

Hard to see, but that's a dolphin frolicking in our boat wake.

HAD to be one sign in the bunch, yes?

No clue what the next adventure will be, but there will definitely be one!  I’m liking this…

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*I watched “Jaws” as a kid and it scared the crap out of me.

**One dive I was watching a needlefish and, when it swam off, looked down to see a moray eel a foot from my crotch…yoicks!  And away!!!

If The Pig Fits

June 17, 2010

Okay, I’m not sure whether to get serious help or to just chuckle.

I was cleaning up some old files, pitching what I could in my never ending attempt to declutter my life, when I found this.  Presented as I found it (with a minor mod).

circa 1990? -ish?

Scanning this in, I lost some detail…

–  the curly tail was actually a piece of wire

–  the ‘mountain oysters’ were added sometime afterwards

Irrespective, I look at it now and alternately laugh at my cleverness… and consider dialing a psychiatric help line for my weirdness.

Which do you suggest?

A Fine Farewell to ZA

June 3, 2010

One of my regrets…if you could really call it that because the trip was wonderful even amidst credit card stuff and all…was that I didn’t get to see one of the big cats.  ZA has lions, leopards, and cheetahs in their parks.  But, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any.  Amongst other things, we did get to see some hyenas eating an elephant carcass – –

Carnivores - - Oy!

And, we did get to see the after effects of a lion feast – –

A zebra in the REALLY buff

…but no big cats.  [pouty lip]

Daughter Person came through, though.  She made reservations for an overnight stay at a very cool lodge, then a morning tour of the De Wildt Cheetah Center, for the preservation and breeding of cheetahs and other endangered wildlife.

After a near panic at not being able to pay because of the credit card issue, we did finally get to take the tour.

First on the tour was the running of the cheetahs.  Every morning they take three of their cheetah and exercise them by running them, having them chase a meat-filled sack being pulled by a winch and pulley setup on the ground.  After watching the first one with my jaw dropped, I regained enough sense to video the next two.  Hope this works – –

Afterwards, we got a short tour of the facility and watched them feeding the cheetahs in their cages.  Costing a bit extra, but worth every penny, was getting to pet a cheetah.  They took one of the cheetahs who is used to humans, plus ran and was fed (thus making them tired and full), put a leash on him, and let us pet him.

It. Was. Remarkable.

Shaka - King Cheetah*

The Cheetah is the only big cat that really purrs.  And could he purr.  He had a V-12 of happy purring away.  Take a look at his face.  If you’ve ever had cats, you recognize that contentment.

After that, we walked to some of the near cages that held other animals, including an albino honey badger.  Then a quick stop at the toilets before the rest of the trip…

Surprised he's not crossing his legs

Then we hopped on a truck to take the long tour of the facility.  Lots of animals in separate enclosures…some small-ish, most quite big…held a variety of critters — wild dogs, hyena, vultures, serval, wild cat, monkeys.  Oh, and a random ostrich that followed us around like a beggar…

Chow time

At each enclosure, they fed the animals.  This allowed us to get a good close look.  While the other animals were fun to watch, my favorite were the cheetahs.    A couple of pics of them, taken from 6′ to 10′ away–

Glad he'd already eaten

Post meal snooze in the shade

Yep, Girl Child came through.  But, still, hoping to see big cats in the wild next trip.

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*King Cheetahs are still cheetahs, but a recessive gene that gives them a unique appearance.  De Wildt has had quite a few of these beasts.

ZA Commissary

May 27, 2010

A few words and pictures concerning the food in South Africa.

I enjoyed the menu options in the various places we ate.  Some, however, especially caught my attention.

We ate at a pancake house before site seeing one day.  Their pancakes are just like ours, except they roll them up like crepes and fill them with all kinds of good stuff.  The pancake side of the menu from that one – – –

Damn fine good eating!

What caught my attention on that latter was the text at the heading of the column.  I’m still wondering why there was a question mark after the “Please be patient”.

And had to chuckle at the other side of the menu where the omelets were listed – – –

"Almost"???? Ummm.... how "Almost"?

At a different restaurant, we demurred on eating dessert.  Might be because of what they were serving – – –

Hope Mickey and Minnie don't know about this...

The most popular fast food restaurant, according to Daughter Person, is KFC.  No, I didn’t eat there, but was tempted just to see if it was the same as ‘back home’.  Likewise, I didn’t eat at Subway, but did get a picture of their menu board – – –

Prices pretty comparable to the stores in the states, too.

Also in the ‘food’ theme, on the way back to Girl Child’s village, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up supplies for her for the following month or so (since it’s not easy for her to get to the store that often).  The choices and availability of foodstuffs was not that different from back home.  The prices?  Yeah, a bit different for some items.  Cheaper for some things, more expensive for others.  What really struck me was that each aisle of food had what I call an “Aisle Captain”.  There was at least one person in each aisle we went to.  They were in charge of that aisle, making sure it looked good, was kept stocked, and customers were helped.  Won’t see that in the States, I’m thinking.  Their presence made taking pictures there a bit difficult, feeling a bit sheepish (baaa!!) about snapping pictures of food.  I did get a couple I wanted to share, though – – –

Well, we ARE in Africa, right?

And, a tribute to truth in advertising, Daughter Person got some butter for herself and her host family – – –

Yep, I may as well just spread it around my gut...

How did stuff taste?  Like food… Some restaurants were very yummy, some not so.

Just like back home…

Ohio GnuKid

May 19, 2010

Daa-da-duh-daaa, daa-da-daaaa….*

In a break altogether from pictures from the trip, we take you now to an adventurous day during my ZA trip.

Daughter Person wanted to do everything while on holiday with me.  Of course, there wasn’t enough time in the day (nor Rand in my pocket) to be able to do so.  One thing she really wanted to do was go white water rafting** on the Sabie River.

I was not thrilled at the prospect.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think going white water rafting is a thrill***.  But, in my mind, you can do that anywhere.  Back in the good old U. S. of A.  there are places to go within a half day drive of where I live.  Why would I want to come all the way to South Africa to do something I could do in my (relatively speaking) back yard?

But, the excitement in Girl Child’s eyes countered any arguments already dying on my lips.  We were going to go.

Prepping for the trip, our guides gave a pretty concise overview of what to expect, how to handle the rapids, and what hand signals meant.

On that latter, had to laugh when he indicated one hand signal where he put both hands to his head, opened his eyes extra wide, and opened his mouth in an “O”.  This meant, and I quote, “What the fuck are you doing?”

Knowing my lack of skills in handling watercraft, I paid particular attention (and actually remembered this advice from my earlier experience white water rafting) to what you do if you get tipped out of your (in this case) two-person raft.

–  Put your feet downstream (so as to keep sensitive body parts from the likely rocks)

–  Go with the flow and find a spot you can safely exit the water

–  Most importantly, look professional and smile…there will be cameras and people watching.  You want to make a good impression on both.

Girl Child and I set off with the group going downstream, safely and joyfully passing the first extremely small and slow rapids.  We were enjoying ourselves, seeing the other rafters, watching the birds along the banks, and following the talented guides who made it look easy.

Coming through a particularly narrow section, one of the guides pointed to the river bank and urged those of us who could to come over and look as we paddled past.

A crocodile… okay, not a huge one.  Only about 4 feet long.  But there he was, only a few feet away from us.  Very cool.

A few more rapids down the way, I did the inevitable (though I tried not to) and fell out of the raft.  Following the advice of the guide (especially the “look professional and smile’ part), I let the swift current take me downstream.  Yes, I bashed my knees on a few rocks (Ow!) and couldn’t get out of the water right away, but was finally able to climb up a rock on the side.

Triumph!  I successfully made it.

…then…

Oh, SHIT!  I was just swimming in crocodile infested**** waters!

Glancing around furtively, I made sure there were none in the immediate vicinity of my rock.  But still, I was a bit shaken (not stirred).

Daughter Person did a dandy job of maneuvering the raft on her own to come and pick me up.

The rest of the trip went well, with much laughter and even a planned swim (the guides claimed it was safe).

Indiana Jones?  He can have those adventures with dangerous critters.

But I still had a great time.

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*Okay, so it’s difficult making recognizable music in a blog without attaching a video or some such.  That was supposed to be the theme from “Indiana Jones”, but…[sigh]

**Thus the lack of photographs.  No water resistant camera in this man’s rucksack.

***So, the last time I went was in university some mumblety-three years ago, but still…

****Yes, I do realize one 4-foot crocodile does not necessarily qualify as a dangerous infestation, but it’s my story and I’ll embellish it any way I want…nyaah!!


Boxer Friday 12Feb10

February 12, 2010

Thanks to some very kind comments and suggestions to continue from my last boxer friday post (as well as a couple VERY nice suggestions to continue sent privately), I am once again joining the delectably delicious Nursemyra for the Friday fun.

Not one of my theme (picture) boxers.  Rather, I chose it because it was red for Valentine’s Day Sunday.   And as brash counterpoint to the good Nurse’s soft pink gown.

Silk feels goooood

Happy early Valentine’s Day.