Sunday, June 04, 2006

We're BACK, and had a GREAT time everywhere.

Trolleys were REALLY neat. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I jumped ahead to the San Francisco part of our trip (pic-wise) because we've been to Las Vegas many times. Heh. We'd never been to Reno, though, and Reno was quite the experience for us. First off, I'd booked us at the Reno Regency. 'twas a bit scary to enter the downstairs lobby in that place; it was DARK and homeless people from the street came in and out. Turned out to be a nice-enough place, just old. The shower was great...lots of pressure. We moved on to SF from Reno and availed ourselves of the public transportation. We also spent three nights in our first experience in a US hostel, not to mention our first experience in a COED hostel room. The hostel was on the grounds of Fort Mason in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf area. The first day there was a little weird. I thought Em was gonna bum out the whole vacation over it. The following days were lots of fun, though, as we met people (including our roommates) and then went on to meet up with family members. Good times...good times...Em just told me that he's ready to go again. My garden is overgrown, so I need to tend to that...just not today. The front and back lawns are overgrown, so Em needs to tend to that...just not today. If you've never tried hostelling, I highly encourage the experience. Can't forget: Spent the last night of our vacation in Alamogordo, NM. Stephen Spielberg is working on a new film there...meaning ... the rooms at both sides of ours had been converted into offices. That was okay, but the whole motel in which we stayed was NON-smoking, so all the smokers congregated outside our corner room. There was the 2am group, the 3am group, and the 4am group. These were the late night crowds. Following them was the 5am group of early risers. We drove off about 7am local time and I would have LOVED throwing a rock at the folks sitting in chairs right outside our room just for contributing to the bags under my eyes. We don't even know the name of the Spielberg movie that'll be coming out next year. SHEESH! Consider this another open thread and spill what you've done while we've been away.


Diane said...

Welcome home! I stowed away on a trip with my grandparents to San Francisco back in the 70s. I thought it was the wildest thing I'd ever seen. We did Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, etc--the whole tourist bit. Fun, fun, fun!

I clicked by here earlier (yesterday? this morning? I'm in a time warp) and there were pics of feet and you on a floor and a couple of butts but I see that they're now gone. I was wondering what the heck happened in San Franweirdo!

Oldnovice said...

and there were pics of feet and you on a floor and a couple of butts but I see that they're now gone. I was wondering what the heck happened in San Franweirdo!

Yeah...those were pictures taken on MTF weekend when we did the "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" photo experiences. You caught me in the "thread development" stage.

We stayed at a hostel at Fisherman's Wharf, but didn't bother to see Alcatraz except from afar. That's it in the first pic, I think. We met some real characters there and exchanged Email addresses. :-)

I see your family is lookin' good! Nellie already has everyone wrapped around her little fingers.

My neighbor cut off the top stems of my tomato plants while I was gone. I've since heard that's a good idea. Who knew?

No. 2 said...

You were going to put our butts on the web!!!! aaaahhhh!!!!

Diane said...

I saw your butt! I saw your butt! :-P

Topping mater plants? Yeah, some strange folks out there do that. Some strange folks also run out in front of speeding trains. It takes all kinds, I guess. ;-)

Newsflash: Video of my family (me, dingdong, and the kiddos) up on my blog now. Knowing that you have sucky dialup like me, though, it's probably not worth the time.

Oldnovice said...

Video of my family ...

Heh. I've looked at it about five times now and think it's GREAT! I only have one question: Why are y'all building cages on the side of the hill? Does this involve a new parenting method?

The usual candidates are struttin' their stuff, too. Don't know why you don't want yours strutted.

You were going to put our butts on the web

Is your butt not pure excellence?

In the news that's the news department, #1 went to the emergency room yesterday for a malady that revolves around the bladder infections she's constantly plagued with. While I'm grateful that I don't have her body, I'm unhappy that one of my kids has the body she has. Probably something that can be traced back to the prenatal period just to introduce more guilt.

Prenatal stuff has really gone berzerk these days, IMO. Sat next to a woman who was expecting at the Basque restaurant in Reno. The list of limitations she follows seemed excessive to me: no fish, no cheese, no alcohol, no blah blah. She said she researched the list and it's standard these days. I'm surprised any of my kids lived.

Diane said...

I only have one question: Why are y'all building cages on the side of the hill? Does this involve a new parenting method?

Trellises for the grapevines, doubles as a "fort" for the kids inside/under the vines once they fill out.

Don't get me started on prenatal crap. %#&@*#

Diane said...

A couple of days ago, I went to drop off some plants to a friend of ours. He's probably somewhere around 70. He looks me in the eye and says, "So now that you're getting up there in age, you really need to start taking ...." and babbles on about supplements for those who are "aging". Yeah, thanks, buddy.

So I'm at the health food store today, picking up some overpriced but needed things. As I'm checking out, the pleasant clerk, maybe in her mid-60s, says, "Oh, ma'am, you just HAVE to try this sample!" and handed me a little cup filled with some yummy concoction. Slurp! I look at the pamphlet she handed me and it's anti-aging, post-menopausal stuff. Hrmph!

Then she tells me that if I buy just $7 more to up my total over $50, I get 20% off my total. Oh, did I read that latest study on the rats who lost weight just by sniffing grapefruit essential oil for 15 minutes per day? There's some grapefruit essential oil right behind you over there. Grrr!

I think I'll just grab my Metamucil and head on over to my rocking chair (assuming my grapefruit-essential-oil-needing butt can fit in the seat) and ponder the good ol' days.

Hey, you said open thread. :-D

Oldnovice said...

LOL. You DID ask your mom to give you the anti-graying gene lately, so maybe folks picked up on that thought?

He looks me in the eye and says, "So now that you're getting up there in age, you really need to start taking ...." and babbles on about supplements for those who are "aging".

Lucky was fond of health food stores; guess it worked 'cause she lived to be 91 or 92 or something. I'm more of the Centrum generation (actually one who has compared the contents of Centrum to the contents of the Kroger generics and chooses the Kroger generics because I'm cheap). I've got some other stuff from when I thought differently (and still take them on occasion even though the expiration dates have passed by about 10 years.)

Funny thing about life, I've noticed: It's full of passages (think Gail Sheehy). We go through different stages (passages), try stuff, move on to other stuff, try it, move on to other infinitum. Then, we die. That's it! Life in a nutshell. Everything/anything that happens inbetween birth and death amounts to minor irritations on this scheme.

Made reservations for a cheap (except during balloonfest week) motel in Albuquerque for October 10 thru 12. If you don't book early, you might just as well forget about booking at all and Em's never had a balloon ride or crewed a hotair balloon and my cousin, Jim, does this event every year and I haven't helped crew in 10 years or it's time. We're gonna do the midweek thing because we can and because crew is harder to come by after folks need to get back to work (as in Tuesday through Thursday).

It's pretty much a full-day drive from our place, but if Steve could get a few days off from work, y'all could get free (as in FREE) balloon rides for the whole family just by showing up. Helping crew might be fun for some of the kids; it basically consists of riding around the desert in a 4whdr vehicle chasing the balloon and then rushing out to throw body weight onto the balloon so folks can exit/enter for the next "passage". (notice how I blended the topics?)

On gray hair, I've got my grandmother's genes. She had long hair and grayed around her face while Lucky grayed her whole head because she kept her hair short (or something). My gray is hidden unless I brush my hair up like you wear yours. Then, you can see the gray all around my face. 'course the gray's less obvious in the summer months because hair tends to get lighter in the sun.

Diane said...

I just showed the kids your balloon invitation. Do they make Valium for kids??

Anyway, it's a possibility. A GOOD possibility. Here's some questions from the kids:

Can Uncle David come, too?

How cold does it get in October because we might be camping?

Can we just move there? (From SmartButt, a.k.a. Isaac)

How high do the balloons go?

How often do they do this? (From Charlie, even though I told him it's every year.)

Oldnovice said...

This is the biggest (and closest to us) balloon fest of the year where I know (and like) a couple of the pilots. Heh. We had some balloons going overhead in our neighborhood sometime last year from somewhere in North Dallas (I think), but I don't know anyone who engages in that fest.

Jim shares crew with Graham Bell. When Jim invited me to join him in Albuquerque 9 years ago he was crewing for Graham. I think Graham lives in the UK and visits the US just to fly his balloon. Jim loved the whole thing so much that he went to school to get his pilot license for these things. That might have been about 6 or 7 years ago; can't remember. I just know that I was a little too jumpy to volunteer until Jim was "seasoned".

If Uncle David can get a few days off during the week, SURE! [I'm pushing for weekday people because there are lots of volunteers on weekends].

It gets COLD in Albuquerque in October during the night and then heats up to hot during the day...just like HERE...snowsuit in the morning and night and bikini during the day.

I suppose you could move there if you want to give up the luxuries of your life in Oklahoma, but why would you want to?

The balloons go high and then low depending on updrafts and downdrafts (or other stuff). I just went for the one ride...I didn't analyze the physics of the drafts. I know we came low enough to wave at some local folks and have some dogs bark at us. The balloons that came over our house here were ALSO low enough for me to hear the PSSH of hot air (which might have been trying to get the balloons to go higher). I think you need to research this on your own to get the real story of how these things work. It's all magic and mirrors to me.

You can get a gate pass if some of you are willing to crew. Here's the scoop on that. We'll need to get those, as well, or we all need to hire a school bus to drive all of us into the park. Hmmm...Jim drives a school bus to pay for his ballooning. Might...NAH!

Balloonfests are held at various times throughout the year in the US and other places around the world, Charlie. I knew that Jim would be at the fest in Albuquerque LAST year and the year before that and the year before that, but if you need a place to stay in Albuquerque during the annual balloonfest, you need to make plans several months in advance and be willing to pay more than normal because lots of folks are vying for the space you want during the fests. We've booked at the Econo Lodge, which is on a block of motels, places to eat, etc., but we paid $30/night two weeks ago and will pay $50/night for the same (nice enough room) during the balloon festival.

When crewing, you're gonna need to get up at 5am, put on some warm clothes and head over to the grounds to help get the balloon inflated and off the ground. You need to bring a pair of gloves so the oil on your hands doesn't affect the balloon. When you're "chasing" the balloon, you need to watch out for the snakes in the desert. The whole thing is over by about 9am or so...time to get breakfast and maybe visit the Albuquerque Zoo or the old town there. SOME nights (last night we'll be there) have the "glow" of all the different shaped balloons and even a fireworks display. The schedule can be viewed here.

Diane said...

Well, hot dang, it's a go!

We haven't been on a real vacation in 7 or 8 years so this will be very cool! We'll be ready for a good break from the construction insanity by then so the timing is perfect. The only thing that wasn't perfect was figuring out the finances for it, what with the Arkansas campout just 2 weeks or so before then. However, the kids begged and said that they'd be willing to make that their Christmas gift for 2006. Dipping into the Christmas fund will make it work out perfectly and it will, in my opinion, be one of the best gifts they could receive! I love being able to do things that will leave them with some very cool, life-long memories. Of course, I also bookmarked a few ballooning sites for them to study. They are to learn all about it and give me a group presentation on it before the event. :-D

I hollered at David earlier and he's up for it. He lives in Phoenix so it's not too far for him (and the extra adult supervision will come in handy). Mind if I link him to here?

Now comes the nitty-gritty... I'll get my butt in gear and book us a hotel. (Campgrounds there are just as expensive as the motels and since it could be quite cold at night, that's a no-brainer.) We have such a large family, that we always have to book two rooms because of the number-of-people-per-room regs.

On the crew thing, do we need to do the crew registration thing? It said not to register if you were doing a specific pilot. Are we needed to help your cousin (Jim, right?) or his buddy (Graham? That's my Dad's middle name.) in particular or do we throw ourselves into the general pot?

The Tuesday-Thursday thing would work well for us, too. Then we could travel on Monday and Friday and Steve would be around to work the weekends before and after. There are enough other folks working the shop to cover for him if it's during the week but he's the only insane who'll do full weekends.

Many more questions to come, I'm sure. Now that the kidlets are quietly sleeping, I'll read over the Balloon Fiesta site more thoroughly, as well as Jim's.

Cousin Jim said...

The flick alluded to is "Transformers". And the young lady from Texas got it right when she stated that the weather in Albuquerque in October suggests snow suits and bikinis. The perfect example would be to wear the shorts and t-shirt under several layers of clothing topped with a really warm jacket. Typically I wear sweats with pants over and t-shirt sweat shirt and jacket over. Sometimes a ski hat or regular ball cap. Temperature could be anywhere from 30 degrees through 45 at 6 AM. By 9 AM 60 and by Noon 70-80 degrees. Check out the AIBF web site and Ifin you go to my site there are several sites on the links page to answer all your questions. Balloons are at the mercy of the winds and and rain so we do cancel flights regularly. As to the crew passes they are for general crew and they will assign you to a balloon. Between Graham and myself we have about 50 in our crew and receive about 25 passes for them. Like everything else Fiesta has gotten tight with the freebees. Admission is paid by only the adults I believe or 14 and over maybe. That info is at the Fiesta site. My grandkids don't need the passes as they come in the balloon vehicle and no passes are required. Oh the grandkids. Matt is 16 soon to be 17, Michelle is 15 and Christopher is 13. Matt will probably be scarce as he works now but I expect Michelle and Chris to be staying with me as much as their mom and dad will allow.

Oldnovice said...

Heating up that website of Jim's: Jim's HOT website.

I've Emailed Jim for clarification, but based on what he just said, it sounds like we're on our own for crewing, passes and stuff. If we all stay at the cheap motel, we can pool our resources. Parking is $10.00/shot or $50.00 for all events. Looks to me like we're only going to 3 events in the 2 days we'll be there, so if Em and I pay $4.00 (x 3) $12.00, Diane's family pays 3.00 )x 3) $9.00, and Dave pays $3.00) x 3) $9.00, we have the $30.00 and Steve has the money for the gas from the motel to the park. I've printed out the instructions. We're less than 6 miles away from the park and it'll take us 13 minutes to get there.

Admission cost is $6.00 for people over 12, so that would be 4 people in Diane's whole party + 2 in ours for each visit...6 people on Wednesday and 12 people on Thursday. Total is 18 people x 6 = $108.00. We could print off the tickets ourselves for $99.00($5.50 each) + the cost of print cartridges and paper. Decisions...decisions. Of course if you're gonna do something on Tuesday, Diane, you might be interested in a whole 'nuther package.

Fun (and stressful) to plan vacations, IMO. Em's all ready for this one, though. If we don't go on another vacation soon, he thinks he should get a part-time JOB. LOL. [Something happened to this man on this last vacation and I'm not sure that something was a good thing.]

Diane said...

Thanks for all of the info, Jim, and nice to meet ya! I've bookmarked your site and am slowly working my way through the links, as well as the Balloon Fiesta's site. By the way, my kids are (or will be by October) 12, 10, 6, 4, and 1.

Anita, your hot link ain't so cold. ;-) I don't mind because I've already bookmarked it but for others who might be interested...

I booked the el cheapo motel today. Check in on the 9th and check out on the 13th. Ooh, Friday the 13th! Good thing I'm not superstitious, huh?

Yer cypherin' is makin' my noggin hurt, Elly May. Are you proposing that we carpool from the motel to the event? Our bus is out of commission (needs a new motor or something that we can't afford right now, time more than money) so we're stuck with the minivan. It only seats 7 and that's exactly what we number. Of course, for that short of a ride, we could do the slightly *cough*illegal*cough* thing and cram a few bodies on the floor and an extra skinny one as a 4th in the back bench seat.

Is it $6 per day or $6 per "session"? That's just me talking to myself, by the way--I'll just go look at the site again to clarify for myself. Yep, I figured we'd print out the admission tickets, too, to save a little $$.

What else? Oh, yeah, I sent the link to David today so he'll probably be showing up before too long. (Which reminds me but has nothing to do with October, I never did hear back from Mom after sending her the link to here and I forgot to ask her during her visit here.)

Job? JOB?! Gah! Get that man some much-needed psychotherapy, will ya? Or maybe bonbons will do.

I think my brain just died. Too much trauma from having to type out the "J" word, I assume.

Diane said...

Anita, your hot link ain't so cold

Um, ain't so hot.

Oldnovice said...

Yep...broken link.

Let's try THIS!

Yep...suggesting we carpool.

Anonymous said...

Super color scheme, I like it! Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing this wonderful site with us.

Oldnovice said...

Welcome, Anonymous. Glad you enjoy the site. Think about pulling up a chair sometime and telling us a little bit about yourself.

Even better, sign up for a blogger account. WE can't see who you are, but at least we'd know which anonymous was which.

Oldnovice said...

What I FAILED to do was provide the link wherein one can create a Blogger Account. D'OH!

CLICK to create an account and then come back and post as whoever you chose to be.

It's important to tell folks about how to create Blogger accounts, IMO. Just sending them the link of the blog gives them nowhere to start in that process. Might be why your mom hasn't yet made it here, Diane.

Diane said...

I think "Anon" might just be a bit of spamarooni. See the little >> under the text? It takes ya to a page of loan links. Anyway, it might not be spam but it's *very* similar to a bunch that the spam filter on my blog catches.

I'm not holding out hope on Mom ever posting here. She's never even posted on mine. She might lurk, though.

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