Monday, September 25, 2006

Only the beginning...

Looks like this weekend coming up is going to be a good one. I am going to one of my most favorite places on earth—Savannah! I am not only excited to be going to Savannah again but this marks the beginning of great adventures to come.

Best Friend, the flight attendant, officially moves to Georgia this weekend! The Salt Lake base for her airline is closing down and she is being transferred to Atlanta. I am so happy that she will be here again, just down the road from me. I feel like I will have even more chances to go “home” to Utah with her and I’m really excited about that. (You know, I still have to try snowboarding this winter!) We have also planned numerous other weekend trips. Lone trips are fun, but the ones with Best Friend are even better.

Now I will have someone to go sea kayaking with along Georgia’s Golden Isles. I’ll have someone to hike the 80 miles of the Appalachian Tail in Georgia (from Springer Mountain to Bly Gap, NC) with. I’ll have someone to camp with along Wild Cat Creek with me this fall. I’ll have someone to ride with me to Nashville or do some caving in Kentucky or snorkeling in Florida or rafting in North Carolina with just on a weekend whim. But most importantly, I'll have someone who will drive four hours with me to Savannah just to eat fresh seafood and then come back home.

God, I can’t wait for some gooooood seafood. Also, I am excited about having a new traveler along with us to Savannah. My good friend, Slot Canyon Boy of Utah will be joining Best Friend on her long drive southeast. He’s never been to Georgia, the south, or the east coast. It’s going to be a lot of fun for me to show this Utah boy around and give him the Outdoorsy Girl’s Tour of Savannah. He gets to listen to my true Savannah tales of the American Revolution, Civil War, pirates, ghosts, and much, much more! Plus I will have to show him all the sites of these occurrences. What a lucky guy! (haha) (If you are reading this Slot Canyon Boy, fear not, you will LOVE it. I gave the same tour to Best Friend years ago and now she’s a Savannah junkie, too! ;)

As for me, I am looking forward most to the seafood. Did I mention that yet?

Until later, I wish you peace, love, and crabs, y’all!

Just for fun...Let's play an advanced version of Where's Waldo?...

Can you find Outdoorsy Girl in this photo taken at last weekend's UGA game? Clue: I'm wearing red.

Yeah, it's no wonder that my brother and I didn't find one another in our drunken states last weekend. If you want to stand out in Sanford Stadium, wear orange*.

*(Warning: Bodily damage and/or death may occur with anyone choosing to wear orange in Sanford Stadium, as this is the team color of Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn, the teams we Bulldogs love to hate.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Football and other weekend fun

Thanks to my brother's generosity, I was able to go the the UGA football game this Saturday. It has been quite a while since I actually went into Sanford Stadium to watch a game so when he offered me his season tickets (while he upgraded to his company's seats) I was very excited. There is nothing quite like being at the game. You never know just what you're gonna get out of those crazy Georgia Bulldog fanatics!

I took my good friend (who I haven't menti0ned in quite a while) the Germaphobe along with me. It was an early game. Kick off was at 1:00 p.m. We were intoxicated by 11:30 a.m. Nothing like tailgating in the morning and seeing people passed out along the sidewalks at 10:45 in the morning. Like I said, you never know what to expect out of these crazy fans. They are in a league of their own.

After following the sea of red and black to the stadium, we watched UAB be pulvarized.

It was so much fun to be in the atmosphere again. I grew up around Athens walked the UGA campus too many times to count, partied in downtown in my younger years, and listened to many bands. My brother graduated from UGA and has remained a big part of the Athens scene, but I haven't. I gave it up and moved closer to the Atlanta scene. It was like a homecoming of sorts for me.

By the way, I never found my brother and his friends at the game, though we did communicate several times via cell phones.

"Are you in your seats now?" he asked.
"Yeah. Where are you?" I say.
Brother: "Forty yard line, about three quarters a way up on the lower level. I'm waving at you."
Me: "Ummmm. You and about a thousand other people!"
Brother: "Well, I think I see you. What are you wearing?"
Me: "I'm the one wearing red. You can't miss me."
Brother: "Smart ass. You and about 92,000 other people!"

He was a little intoxicated, too. I guess it was like the blind finding the blind?

On Sunday, I joined my friend and her hubby and some of their friends on their boat for an afternoon of fun in the sun on Lake Lanier. It turned out to not be very sunny, but it was fun.

I arrived at the boat ramp where I was to meet my friends. It was at this point in time when my friend W. informed me that someone would help pull me in to the boat on the tube. The what? I was hoping my cell phone was breaking up and I didn't hear right. As I stood along the shoreline staring out at the pair of boats I just realized were the ones they were in, I was beginning to visualize balancing myself on this donut float trying desperately not to drop my cell phone or car keys into the murky depths of the filth that is known as Lake Lanier while attempting to keep my white, thin capri pants as dry as possible."Did you just say pull me in on the tube?" I asked. Yes, that was what she had said. She did not mention that their boat and another friend's boat were tied together and that the water was down so much that the dock was out of water and there was no way other way to pick me up. "I knew if I told you, you wouldn't have come!" W. yelled to me in defense from across the great span of water that I was apparently going to have to cross. And she was right. She knows my dislike of this particular lake of which I have so many theories and unrational fears. (It really is gross, y'all.)

Anyway, one of their really cute friends offers to come and help me. He was so sweet and promised that he wouldn't let me tip over. After some persuasion, I followed his advice and lay across the float on my stomach for better balance. I finally allowed him to lead me across the lake's water through my many protests and outbursts of words such as "yuck", "gross", "What if I drop my cell phone?!" "Ouch! My keys are digging into my leg!" and "Ewwww! Don't let that water touch me!"

When I was safe on the boat, I wished desperately I could have a do-over with that first impression. I am so not that little girlie whiner that doesn't like to get dirty. I can swim. I am not afraid of water...except that nasty lake. I wanted to explain that to him. I wanted to let him know that I am a cool, outdoorsy girl. Though I did chat with him a throughout the afternoon, the moment for talking about how much I enjoyed rafting the Colorado River and hope to do some rafting in Jackson Hole someday and how I can't wait to go snorkeling in the Bahamas this spring--because you know I really love water and am not afraid of it--just never came up. Crap!

By the way, did I mention that the main purpose of this trip was for W. to introduce me to Cute Friend? Who wants to place bets on him not calling me? Somebody just shoot me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Confessions of a bad outdoorsy girl

Now that I have your attention, I want to point out that even the greatest football player has made a fumble and the greatest homerun hitter has struck out.

I do consider myself a brave, tough adventurer and a traveler with a passion for learning new things and rediscovering history. I love a challenge and I have a few awesome accomplishments and experiences under my adventure belt. However, with my being a true outdoorsy girl, there a few things that I am not so proud of such as…

My “camping” trip to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula this past June. Best Friend and I had planned and packed for this great camping trip near some beautiful beach covered in tide pools full of starfish and crabs and sea anemones. We had managed to pack our sleeping bags and tent in our carryon luggage along with everything we would need (somehow!) and were on our merry way to camping. Only it was raining when it came time to set up camp. Hard. So we didn’t set up our tent and checked into a KOA cabin instead of being a real trooper. Anyway, it would be okay since we would be camping the next night beneath the Washington stars (or rain clouds, whatever), right? Wrong. Unless you count the Flying J truck stop right off I-5 in Tacoma as camping. Maybe it can be called car camping?

Then we did it again (the car camping, that is) two months later in Missoula, Montana because it was too late and dark and we were too tired to set up camp when we stopped driving. Hey, we were too excited about getting to Glacier and didn’t want to stop until we were too exhausted to trudge forward!

But that’s only two incidents! I am still a great camper…oh... unless you count that one time I only day camped. I didn’t tell anyone I was going camping in the north Georgia mountains alone. I just didn’t want to hear all the “Are you crazy? Don’t you know how dangerous that is?” lectures from everyone and I needed a day away to mull over things that were taking over my brain. It was a cool, colorful Fall day when I set up camp in the Chattahoochee National Forest right by a clear stream. I relaxed in my hammock, did some reading, and warmed up some chicken corn chowder over the fire. It was just turning dark and I was so relaxed…until I heard this howl and then another howl joined in and yet another. Now, I’m not afraid of a coyote…but a pack? And they were moving in closer. Let’s just say I threw everything in my car's backseat and made it back down the mountain before the full moon had completely risen!
Dang! What a chicken!

Well, at least this outdoorsy girl is a good hiker. A very good hiker….unless you count the hike I took in June at Yosemite to Half Dome…and did not make it to the summit. Yes, I know that there was a storm blowing in and I heard the thunder myself. I know that you aren’t supposed to pull yourself up the cables on that sheer granite mountain during an electrical storm, but I actually believe I willed that storm in! I mean here is a world class hike that people traveler from many a country to hike and I was dreading the steep part just below the summit so much that I had worried myself sick and thought of excuse after excuse to turn around and go back the extremely steep 8.2 miles I had already come. Then finally…a grayish black cloud and clap of thunder and then the biggest smile across my face as I turn from the visible cables that I would have had to pull myself up to the top of Yosemite National Park’s most famous emblem, Half Dome. "Tutt-tutt, looks like rain", I say, as I walk down the steep path of defeat, lying to myself that I would have totally done it if it weren’t for the change of weather.

Other than that, I have a great hiking record. Well…actually, there was that one time I almost died in Grand Teton, Wyoming. No, not the last hike (the 20 miler) that I pulled off there. Though, I did almost die 3 times then, too (by bear, by rockslide, and by sliding down a snow bank hundreds of feet.) Those death excuses would have appeared more heroic, as I was relentless in achieving my goal to the end, than the time I am thinking of. Right now I am remembering the time Best Friend and I casually headed up Cascade Canyon. We weren’t going very far. We weren’t planning on taking a whole lot of time. We just wanted a little taste, but the taste was so good that we were sucked into hiking farther than we thought…like 13 total miles worth. It was just so beautiful that we couldn’t stop. We had to see what was right around the next bend. Neither of us carried much water. I ran out of water—completely. I’m talking major dehydration here. Before finally making it back to Jackson Hole to the first convenience store and gulping down a whole bottle of Gatorade before even paying for it, I thought I was going to collapse right on the trail. Just FYI, death by dehydration would be the total disgrace of any hiker. Idiot.

Even being the history buff that I am, I have a couple of shameful behaviors to fess up to regarding our national historic sites. First off, I stole a couple of pieces of brick from Fort Sumter. I know! I KNOW!!! But I just couldn’t help myself. I had to own a piece of history for myself. And how much more cooler of a Civil War artifact could you own than a piece of the fort where the very first shots of the Civil War were fired? At least that’s my excuse.

However, there’s no excuse for my next violation against history. There’s no other way I can admit to this…I broke into a church that is on the National Register of Historic Places on a ghost hunt. Yes I did! I just climbed right through the window into this little wooden church to see if it was haunted, to which I found no proof one way or another. Of course, I did no damage whatsoever to the place and it was as if I never went in there at all, but I could have gone to jail for that! The people who know me the best were all really shocked-- not of the fact that I committed some breaking and entering into a church but rather more shocked that it was on the National Register of Historic Places. Wait a minute…what does that say about me?

Now that I have come clean with some of my dirty secrets, I feel much better. At least I feel like I have been open and honest. I have admitted my guilt about everything un-outdoorsy and historically incorrect.

Oh yeah…just one more thing…I took a hiking map from Great Smoky Mountain National Park and only paid $.75 of the $1.00 the trail map cost. I couldn’t find another quarter in my bottomless purse to place in the donation box.

I’m going straight to hell in hiking boots.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I've become one of them!

This morning I woke up to nice weather. It was one of those days where I felt like getting outdoors and escaping the metro Atlanta area. It was one of those days perfect for a spur of the moment trip to the mountains. I slid on a baseball cap and my hiking shoes and headed north for a day outdoors.

It was too late for any decent trout fishing so I thought of what I would do other than just riding around winding roads, hugging the curves. I really needed to stop and get out for a bit. I decided that I needed some exercise so I thought of my favorite hiking trails.

I rode through and above Helen, a cute little tourist trap of a town designed to resemble a village you would find in Bavaria, Germany. It seems unlikely that one would be swept into believeing they were in the Alps rather than the Appalachians, but Helen really sucks in the tourists as I have yet to go through there on any given weekend in my entire life and find it uncrowded.

I took my favorite scenic byway right outside of Helen. I was surprised at all the wildflowers still in bloom. I noticed the Chattahoochee River is still low since we are still in desperate need for some rain. I met a million bikers and motorcyclists and became jealous of their openess to the air so I turned off my AC and rolled down my windows and opened the sunroof and turned up my Tom Petty.

Finally, I decided I would hike the short Dukes Creek Falls Trail. It is only 1.1 miles down to the falls. And even though that makes it a 1.1 mile straight back up and out, it still seemed like a wuss trail after the hiking I did over the summer. Still, I needed some exercise and a short trail (since I was getting a late start). I decided that Dukes Creek would do and since I have already hiked this particular trail several times, I would see how fast I could do it. This hike was more of an exercise workout for me than a scenic hike.

I started out at a fast pace and almost immediately passed a pair of hikers. Then I passed more hikers. I quickly walked alongside the rushing creek, hardly noticing it. I zipped by a few more hikers. I rounded a switchback and passed another hiker. It seemed I was down by the falls in no time. I quickly ran down the wooden stairs to the observation deck by the falls and took a quick look before turning around and heading back up the mountain full speed ahead.

During my brief moments by the lovely falls, I noticed that a couple of people taking pictures of the falls looked at me and my rushing along disapprovingly. Clearly they were saying, "Where's your camera? Why did you even bother coming down here if you didn't care about seeing the falls? Take time and smell the roses. Sheeeesh!" I know that's what they were thinking because that is exactly what I think about those kinds of people who rush along like they are still in city mode and don't take the time to appreciate all that which is surrounding them. Trying to prove myself as a true outdoorsy girl, I turned to one lady and said, "Wow. Still just as pretty here as all the other times I've hiked down and took all those pictures!" She ignored me so I shot off like a dart back up the trail.

I walked back past several of the people I passed on my way down. There were the same group of teenagers again...what was that?! One of the teeny boppers gave me a mean look that I could plainly read. It said bitch. I wanted to spin around and yell to her, "Don't be hatin'!"

It occurred to me right then. I had become one of those no-camera-carrying, no nature appreciating trail hogs that come up on your heels and walk right behind you sighing loudly until you finally get out the way and let them pass. I thought about how much I hated these people. These people don't deserve to be on the trail because they don't appreciate it anyway. Okay, so maybe the real reason I hated them is because they made me feel like an inferior, lazy, slow, fat-butt hiker as they easily plowed me over without breaking their stride. I would curse them under my breath as I choked on their dust.

When I reached the parking lot, I checked the time. I had made it in less than forty five minutes. I know that there are hikers that could easily smoke me. I know that I still tire on long hikes. I know that I still have a long way to go before becoming the really tough hiker I want to be. But I also know that I have improved greatly on my endurance and I can do about 100 times more than what I ever thought possible when my doctor diagnosed me with asthma. I am in so much better shape than I have ever been. I wanted to go back down and meet those people who gave me dirty looks and yell, "Sucka!"

You can hate me because I'm beautiful, but don't hate me because I'm faster and fitter than you. ;)

Monday, September 04, 2006


The news of the death of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, is quite upsetting to me. You see, it has completely changed my hypothetical life on a stranded island.

When asked the question,If you were stranded on an island who would you pick to be stranded with?, I put serious thought into it. I was to pick no more than 5 people, so after adding and cutting people from my list, I eventually ended up with this as my final roster:

1. MacGyvor. Because he would be able to catch some type of radio signal using only the nail file in his pocket and get us rescued.
2. The Crocodile Hunter. Because he could protect me from my worst fear--all the scary snakes and other deadly animals that would inhabit a tropical island. He would have to lead me around anywhere I walked on the island.
3. Orlando Bloom. I am not mentioning his uses. Use your imagination.
4. Best Friend. Because I have to have someone to have adventures with and go exploring while we wait on MacGyver to get us rescued.
5. Some other really hot man. Because I am not willing to share Orlando with Best Friend.

I was so satisfied with my list. And now there is an opening. Crikey! Who will save me from the wretched reptiles now?

Also, on a side note, I had planned on bringing plenty of Jimmy Buffett to listen to to warp my mind into thinking I was merely on vacation somewhere in the Florida Keys. Might as well enjoy it since I would only be there for a short while. I still have MacGyvor, after all.

So who would you take? And who should I get to replace the Crocodile Hunter?