Monday, September 29, 2008

NaBloPoMo

It's that time of year again! Time for

NaBloPoMo... (National Blog Posting Month)

The lazy-man's version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

Who's in?

Back in the Saddle

The Studly Hubby and I took a whole week off from biking but finally dragged the bikes back out to get to work faster today.

Well, my butt survived it but just barely.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

San Juan Islands Bike Trip

We had quite an experience out in San Juans.

First, a big THANK-YOU to those who donated for this amazing event! You've helped the American Lung Association in their quest to help kids breathe better, and you helped our team have the craziest bike trip we ever thought we could have. Now I'll tell you the whole story.

Next, the team:


The Studly Hubby is in red and I'm in green with the bike helmet on. This was taken at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, where we camped at the fairgrounds on Sat and Sun night.


But let me start with Day 1.

DAY 1: The crazy departure

We arrived at the ferry departure site, in Anacortes, late Friday night (after dark), and set up tent in the soccer field of a middle school with about twenty other tents that were all lit up from the inside with flashlights. I'm sorry to say I didn't get a picture.

We awoke at 5 am because it had started raining. At first, the rain was kind of pleasant. But at 6 am, we had to take down the tent, and it started to suck - everything was wet, and it was dark, and we had to get on our bikes at 7 am and bike out to the ferry terminal and stand around in the freezing rain and cold for about an hour while we waited for the ferry to come in. That really sucked. Plus it was cold. I'm glad I didn't get any pictures of that. If we weren't so excited we probably all would have given up and headed back home before we even got out there.

DAY 2: The First Crazy Adventure (aka San Juan Island in the Freezing Rain)

San Juan Island was a mess of freezing cold and rain. We biked off the ferry and headed out on our 40-mile trek around the island with the rain beating down on us mercilessly. This was not good ole' Northwest drizzle (which I can handle), this was what one would call a Midwest Downpour. And it was relentless. And cold. None of us remember much from that day, except the rest stop where we stopped and huddled together for warmth and drank hot water and ate wet apples slices.

But I think I can find a positive spin. We had many new and unique experiences that day, such as: getting dirtier than I've been since I was five, getting windburn (on my face! it hurts!), biking in soaking wet underwear for four hours, slipping off the handlebars and falling on top of the bike (this was the Studly Hubby's great misadventure), and coming around a corner to see a beautiful view and five guys standing in the pouring rain in their bike gear enjoying it and somehow having a good time... they will be my new role models.

DAY 3: The crazy hills of horror (aka Walking Our Bikes Around Orcas Island)

Day 3 we headed out to Orcas Island, and it started out a lot better, because it wasn't raining.

The ferry right before we loaded:


It turns out that Orcas Island was sculpted by some vengeant God who was angry with all the bike riders and sought to put an end to their misery. The center of the island is a mountain (Mount Constitution). The rest of the island is a series of mini-mountains (what they told us were 'rolling hills') compounded by constantly rough pavement.

Our team suffered both a flat tire and a lost bike-rack bolt on this island, and several riders got bruises and blisters on their palms. After we made our way to the other end of the island (Doe Bay) we could hardly feel our legs (it took 3 hrs to get there). On the way back, we were walking our bikes up the hills and dreaming of a taxi ride. As we departed the last rest stop, we were worried we wouldn't even make the ferry. But the sun was out, the island was beautiful, and we successfully made it back - then went straight to the bar to celebrate.

After the ride on Orcas island, the team gathered to wait for the ferry.

Derek's expression says it all about Orcas Island's crazy hills.


DAY 4: The crazy last day (aka Recovery on Lopez Island)

Oh, Lopez Island was so beautiful! It was quiet, flat, very rural, and had astounding views of the water and the other islands. We stopped many times to take it all in (and rest our weary legs).

The Studly Hubby and I taking in the view - so pretty!

In all, it was an amazing experience. But alas, it will probably remain a one-time experience. Next time we go to the San Juan Islands, it will be from the comfort of our car!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The manly KILT

I guess some men prefer skirts over pants... but they call them kilts.

I discovered over the weekend that there is a growing population of kilt-wearing men out there. They even have a whole store dedicated to them, Utilikilts (there's one in downtown Seattle, but if you don't live here you can order your kilt online).

If you're curious about the underwear situation of these kilt-wearing men, check out some of the home-made commercials on the Utilikilts website (called Mockumercials, to see the whole list, go here). My favorite is Round 2, 3rd Place: "Pants don't stand a chance."

Happy Punctuation Day today, everyone! Also, Happy Birthday to my li'l bro JUSTIN, who is turning 21!!!

Coming soon: My memoir of our crazy bike ride... get ready!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Studly Hubby earned more nerd-points

My Studly Hubby just sent me a picture that he took with his iPhone of the INSIDE OF THE BUS!

And he was text messaging me the whole time!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Opal POWER

It was our FIFTH wedding anniversary last weekend and the Studly Hubby got me a beautiful opal ring.

It's not just any ring either. His Studly Parents, who own an amazing jewelry store in Iowa City, made the ring. Isn't it pretty?

As soon as I put it on I realized it gave me Super Powers, which I will use for good (not evil) once I learn to master them. I think some of my friends want me to use the ring's superpowers to make duplicated copies of it so they can have one too (but the duplicated rings probably wouldn't have SuperPowers, they would just be pretty).

I'm such a lucky girl!

What happened to the crunch cone? (part 2)

While we were in Iowa, I went to Dairy Queen to get a much longed-for crunch cone and interrogate the manager there about why our Dairy Queen in Washington state doesn't have crunches.


Well the manager of the Iowa Diary Queen assured me that all Dairy Queens can have crunches if they so choose but that some decline them because there is an untrue belief that crunches need to be applied with an expensive piece of equipment. He showed me how that piece of equipment is unnecessary (you just roll the cone in a tray of crunches) and recommended that I put in a suggestion to the manager of our Washington Dairy Queen that they get some crunches and apply them that way.

Then I asked if I could simply buy a bag of crunches to take home with me and he said no, not unless I have $250,000 to open my own Dairy Queen franchise. I was briefly tempted to do this, but then remembered that I can still have crunches whenever I return to Iowa.

I Love Physical Therapy

I started physical therapy about a month ago and found someone I really like (in constrast to a traumatizing former experience). If you're looking for a good physical therapist in Seattle, definitely go to Sarah Meeker (in Wallingford).

What she does that I like so much is 1) pay attention to me and all the problems I tell her about (and think carefully about them too) 2) look at body mechanics to determine what types of movements I'm doing in my everyday life to cause these problems and 3) help me change those movements so that my body can heal and won't get reinjured.

Also, she doesn't blame ME for my injuries (blaming instead my body mechanics, which she insists is all genetic and totally not my fault), which is a really nice thing to hear after a big injury.

So it turns out that I hurt my back because my hips are tight, and I hurt my knee because my ankle is stiff. She's working on getting more flexibility to these parts and teaching me not to bend my back and knee in ways that hurt them (they are TOO flexible). Also she's helping me strengthen my weak spots and lengthen all my tight spots. I'm doing squats and leg lifts and hip stretches and upper back stretches and all sorts of things that take up a lot of time, but my back is definitely feeling better.

Last night, the Studly Hubby snapped a picture of me doing one of my physical therapy exercises in my pajama pants.


It's still a slow process and physical therapy like anything isn't an all-encompassing solution. Another thing I like about my physical therapist is that she's not against chiropractic, message therapy, or anything else that might work, and she talks to me about what to try and when I need it. I've found some alternative anti-inflammatories (fish oil, and an herbal mix called Zyflamend) that I would recommend.

So, I'm finally getting better. And with the Big Bike Ride next weekend, it was just in time!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'm BACK!

I apologize, my dear readers, for another loooong absence. Facebook is in part to blame. I am a woman obsessed! But I resolve to return to my blog where I can really vent without limit.

Also we were on vacation! We jetted out to Iowa for a wonderful week of visiting relatives. I spent my spare time relaxing in the luxury of my mom's newly redone backyard with red wine and good food. We had absolutely perfect weather. I apologize to those of you I didn't get a chance to visit! Unfortunately there is never time for everything.

Highlights of the trip:

- My studly hubby and Uncle John bravely removing a dead something from my mom's backyard
- Several awesome bike rides with my brother Alex and mom and step-dad. I never knew Iowa was such a good place for biking!
- Witnessing the potty-training adventures of my youngest brother, and seeing my stepsister's new house in Peoria, and the biggest grill ever to be grilled upon
- The nostalgia of campus in its first week back to school - oh, the memories! and now it's even better because they have a Chipotle!

Shoe Review

My Aunt L-Rock asked me recently what my recommendation is for a good pair of shoes. I have done a lot of in-depth Shoe Research through my lifetime and was excited to share my findings with her. Then I thought, well maybe that would make a good blog post.

So this is for those of you who are looking for a good pair of shoes. I'm very picky, so the shoes I am talking about here are only those that are AWESOME, no exceptions.

What I would rate as CONSISTENTLY AWESOME shoe brands (these are a little more pricey, about $150 a pair, but well worth it):
-Birkenstock (fit well if you have high arches and/or wide feet)
-Earth (fit well if you like your heel very low, and have lower arches)
-Dansko (fit well for more narrow feet, although wide is also available, may not fit well if you have particularly high arches, these wear very well I am told)
-Naot (made in Israel, this brand fits like Birkenstock only they are cushier and prettier)

My new Naot shoes, aren't they pretty? I LOVE THEM:

What I would rate as USUALLY AWESOME ($50-$100):
- Keen (these are waterproof! they fit like slippers, can satisfy diverse feet shapes and have neat models - however some wear out sooner than the above brands, and you really need to try on the various models before you buy them because they don't all have the same fit)
- Ahnu (spinoff shoe company from Keen, they are similar)
- Montrail (this is normally a hiking boot company but I highly recommend their Molokai flip-flops for you poor souls who have plantar fascitis but still want to bust out in the summer-time with flip-flops)
- Old running shoes (if you buy your running shoes for around $100 and have them fitted by a pro at a specialty shop, they will make fabulous walking shoes after their running life is over, and they will be all broken in!)
- Ariat (used to exclusively make horse-back riding shoes, but were so famous in the horse world for being awesome that they expanded to casual shoes and have really rocked my world)
- Fluevog (Canadian shoes that are supposedly 'Satan-proof', but I mainly put them here because they have such unique styles and few truly good shoes come in such diverse and awesome choices - watch out, they are really pricey, usually $100-$200 but sometimes $400!)

A pretty pair of Fluevogs:
Don't be fooled by the following brands - they claim to be good for your feet, but they're NOT!

- Born (these are CUTE, yes, but their soles are made of cotton puffs)
- Clarks (see above)
- Doc Martens (I am a long-time fan of Docs but apparently their soles are very unforgiving and now that I have tried other brands I have to agree with this)