Monday, July 28, 2008

Tubing by Numbers

Saturday found me standing on the edge of a creek in Maryland surrounded by over a hundred people clutching oversized colorful inner tubes, and wondering where my friends were. We were herded like cattle into a rope coral in the water until everyone was floating, and then released to float down the river for about 4 miles.

Our group hung onto eachother until tubes had spread out a little and then the PFDs could be wrenched off to be used as backrests, and then we relaxed.
There's nothing quite so stress relieving as bobbing down a river oblivious of anything else other than stretching out with a beer in one hand and listening to the gentle lap of the water while catching some rays. On this particular excursion however, relaxation was not easily come by. A hundred people swirling and bumping downstream was quite a sight and entertaining, but not relaxing. I gave up that notion early on and decided to have fun by laughing with pals, swimming alongside my floating family, and at one point, by being dragged along underneath my upturned tube because my wrist was caught in the strap. What larks!
We stopped for lunch at a field where everyone parked their tubes on the grass and plonked down in them and patiently waited for their chicken and potato salad to be handed out. Once tummies were filled, we were herded again into the water to resume our journey.

Some lads had fun jumping from this tree into the river, but most of us by now were content to just sit back and watch the river banks pass slowly by. We had a little excitement when Jon kindly pointed out that I had a spider the size of a dinner plate on my leg. Panic ensued as everyone tried to paddle frantically in every direction away from me. The spider nonchalantly walked on the water towards the bank, scoffing at our displays of cowardice.
After nearly 6 hours, we reached our exit point, clambered out onto the bank and plopped with soggy bums onto vinyl seats of old school buses for the drippy ride back to our cars.
A great way to enjoy the water, but I wouldn't recommend taking a book!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good Bye Star Trek in Vegas

I just watched an episode of Voyager even though I'd seen it before, and remembered I'd read that the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas is closing on September 1st, 2008. I'd been lucky enough to go there in May and took photos & videos along with meeting a Borg and adding a Tribble to the family.
I thought I'd put up some images in case you were wondering whether to make a last minute mad dash to Sin City. It's worth it!

This really was an experience of a kind, getting kidnapped by Klingons and being assimilated by the Borg. You'll be grinning from ear to ear as much as the 12 year old geek you're standing next to in the Transporter Room.
Everything you can remember from any of the series is here, and episodes are running continuously in the restaurant. The gift shop has everything a Trekkie should desire, and I dare anyone to leave without making a purchase.
Check out the bathrooms, even they weren't overlooked! I've added a video of the casino below.

Farewell Star Trek in Vegas.............. I'd love that big ole Enterprise to hang above my desk at work! Make it so!

Monday, July 21, 2008

White Oak Canyon

Sunday morning started early with an apprehensive drive to the White Oak Canyon trail near Sperryville, VA, where I was meeting a group of seasoned hikers to combat a 'strenuous' mountain, famous for its numerous waterfalls and vistas. I was a little worried as I've been having back issues and its been awhile since I'd tackled a hike like this. I'd conquered Old Rag some years earlier but during a time when I was fitter, not to mention, younger!
We set off uphill at a 'lickety split' pace and before a mile was traversed, I was looking into faces coming back down the trail of those who'd decided today wasn't the day for them and had turned back towards the parking lot. I attempted a few conversations with fellow comrades but gave up quickly as I realized talking whilst breathing was not an option.
Food supplies were shared and drinking water carefully rationed throughout the hike amongst us four who had fallen back from the route marching group we'd originally followed. Comradery built as we urged eachother on to Jennifer's mantra of "One step at a time".

We actually saw this sign at the top of the mountain. I'm so glad it wasn't at the bottom because I sincerely believe it would've affected my decision to continue the climb. Also, notice all following photos were taken from the top of the mountain and down the White Oak Canyon trail. Taking photos on the way up Cedar Run was not considered for one moment.

On the downhill trail, the falls were spectacular, and we were grateful to be able to cool our foreheads and soothe our throbbing feet in the chilly sparkling pools. My camera came into use at last as I frantically snapped everything in sight to ensure footage of this arduous adventure.

After seven hours of hiking in temperatures of over 90 degrees, we finally made it to the parking lot, but not before we'd had a celebratory splash and scramble in a pool near the bottom.

We finished the day with a round of High Fives, beers and a smug sense of satisfaction!

Sunshiney Day

On Saturday afternoon, I drove to Maryland to capture once again the joy of seeing a field of yellow sunshine. There's no way anybody can be miserable standing in a field surrounded by the happy golden faces of sunflowers. I'd been here two years previously but wanted better photos than the ones I'd taken before.

The field was nearly empty apart from goldfinches darting back and forth and a million bees buzzing, and then a couple walked past and started chatting. I discovered I was talking to Barbara Saffir whose Road Trip article in the Sunday Post had enticed me to these fields two years earlier. This is her Road Trip link:
She kindly took this photo of me and also suggested some other places of natural interest to visit.

I found out much later that although these fields are a source of enjoyment and wonder for nature lovers, smashed remnants of skeets scattered on the ground suggest the true reason for the existence of this sunshine patch. Apparently once the seeds on the flowerheads have matured, it seems pigeons and other such birds are released to feed on the flowers and become targets for a rural sport. A sad end to a field of beauty.