So I sit in my shithouse of an office, listening to my newly hired housecleaners (a.k.a. angels in sweats) and wonder how I got to this point. How did I let the rest of 2008 just go unnoticed? How could I possibly allow myself to let the ENTIRE last 6 1/2 months of the year just blow away like a fart in a whirlwind, going unwritten, not even a “Hey! We’re still here but ya, gotta jet…”? How?

Life. The mass amounts of shit that consume our everyday existence. The inability to give in, let go….and I tain’t gonna say “let God” for all you thumpers in the room. Wait, let me roll back a few frames. For those who don’t know me personally, I am a Type A personality. I must do things my way, all the way, any day. I never give up. I never ask for help. I never admit defeat. Hell, I can’t even admit the stomach flu! But something happened during those first couple of days of 2009. I realized something, an epiphany of sorts if you will. First, 2008 was a very odd, odd year. I allowed myself to be swayed by people who seemed genuinely interested in my abilities, yet mistook my kindness for weakness. And I almost got taken. But I didn’t. That’s the key. Second, I put many others before myself, making sure all were taken care of, fed, had enough for themselves and their families. While my family ALWAYS, ALWAYS is my #1 priority, I never made myself #2. Hell, I don’t even think I made the Top 20. Third, there was a car accident, injuries, illnesses…a full vat of personal wretchedness. Fourth, I just can’t give up control. I hold the reins tightly. My hands will bleed before I admit defeat. Well, guess what. I’ve been taken from the dark side and not willingly. During my months long “intervention”, I was told by those who love me that I need to give up the juice and allow others to help me. What was the drug for which I had to give up? Yes, I finally had to admit that I’m a control, “I can do everything and STILL write” out and out freak. I had to hire a housecleaner. But I can do everything, right? I CAN clean the house, run the dog, train for races, work in Jack’s class, do the laundry, make home-cooked meals, shop for the household, coach little league, host parties and pack for a 3-day motorcycle adventure. I CAN! I CAN! I CAN! No, Sandy, you can’t. Those who are of the same alphabetical ilk know how hard it is to wave the white flag. I have failed. My family? Nah. They were the major cheerleaders in this “give something up, dammit” rally. Terry reads the blog over and over, pressuring me daily to just start writing again! I guess I have failed the image I’ve had of myself for, well, my entire existence. Never admit defeat. But asking for help is NOT admitting defeat. In fact, not asking for help is inserting defeat in another part of your life. Not being able to do what I love injects negativity into my family. Always playing catch-up means never moving forward. I don’t want a dark cloud hovering as part of my ensemble. I know gray is in, but…

And I must move forward. We all must move forward. Existing is not an option. Admitting I can do it ALL is existing. There is no room for improvement, only a set-up for failure. Failure may not happen today or next week, but it will happen. And maybe then it will be too late. One should never live according to what may never happen. So I had to choose to change and now. I don’t want another low year. More peaks than valleys, right?

So here we all are, once again. How ARE you doing? How have you been? What’s new? I can tell you what’s old. The next several entries will recap some of the highlights from the last 6 1/2 months of 2008. They are news worthy and they need to be written. Some of the verbal details may be lost, but I promise you a full return of the Adventure Trio. It needs to be written. It needs to be shared. And I need to enjoy giving up at least one of my chores…but I refuse to hire and gardener.

WARNING: If any reader is easily offended or nauseated by religion and/or my views regarding freakish hyper-religious sects, please stop reading and I’ll see you back at the next post. If you’re curious, go right ahead. You have been warned and, therefore, it’s your own fault. I’m not responsible for your reaction, only mine.

Even before we turned the key on the Yukon to begin our two week journey, I knew of one place I just HAD to visit – Colorado City. Like a bad car accident, I had to slow down and look. If you’ve been watching the news these past couple of years or been in a bookstore as of late, the polygamist society has been at the forefront of discussion in every facet of the media. I alone have been extremely fascinated with the why’s, what’s and practices of this icky, bizarre religion for many, many years. Hey, for some it’s the Amish; for me it’s the polygamists. And many of my friends have the same strange fascination (yes, Ixchelle, I mean you). Having educated Terry on the history of the FLDS, he, too, was more than willing to take the journey into the unknown. But first, we had some very cool country to ride through to get there…and a 6 year old who would rather have been in the hotel pool all day. Sorry, Jack, but we feel we must expose you to strange America. And no, you can’t bring a couple o’ bitches back to the room with you in the name of religion. Leave that up to the creepy white dudes for which you are not one of.

You could imagine how we looked riding around Colorado City in brightly colored motorcycle gear with, God forbid, only one child strapped on the back! Having read several books relating to the FLDS, I knew the area was teeming with wrong-doing’s and a general sense of ickiness, like a cold shiver that runs down your back. As we rode in, I spotted various compounds of mobile home communities against the hillside. We turned left into a neighborhood of sprawling mansions. Yes, MANSIONS! There were wings built for the growing number of wives and children. Dozens of childrens’ bicycles littered the yards and various wives were outside watering or tending to the garden. I’m sure the husbands were out conquering the world. Yet oddly enough, all these mansions looked unfinished and still under construction. More on that later, I promise. I swear, when I spotted the first wife, I couldn’t help but scream, “Oh my fucking god! Oh my fucking god!” inside my helmet. It’s kind of like seeing a platypus for the first time. You know it exists. You know that they’re out there, but you never really believe in its existence till you see it for the first time. Ya, kinda like that. I craved more.

We turned left back onto the highway and headed into the main area of town. We found the Mercantile in the center of town. Yes, the Mercantile. We parked the bikes in a slot and kind of sat back and watched. Vans and beat-up cars dotted the lot with a rare new car pulling in every so often. I assumed that the head wife was allowed the new ride. The women stared at us, half in fear, half with a desire for us to leave them alone. They wore the full dress, obviously hand-made, and were covered in long sleeves and jeans or pants under their dresses to cover their religious undies. Like “special underwear” are going to keep you from sinning and having sex! The hair was done in full frontal feather with a long braid trailing down the back. The shoes were large and quite clunky. The mother’s cuddled their young offspring while the older children were back at the compound tending to the other kids. One of the funniest fucking things I saw was a female midget polyg woman. (I already know I’m goin’ to hell, so I’m going to say what I want.) I swear, her braid was almost as long as she! One of the saddest, most vile things we saw was a pregnant teenage girl. Terry thought she was around 19 or 20. She was more like 15 or 16. And this probably wasn’t her first child. Terry was shocked. I was completely speechless. We were outsiders in their bizarre world. We pretended to be there for a break in the ride, but they knew as well as we did that we were there to stare. We sure as hell didn’t blend in! I did my best to capture a few digital memories without being noticed, but that was impossible. And we were noticed. And we were approached by one of the males.

While taking our helmets off for a breather (and a good stare), Terry found himself in the presence of one of the husbands who began commenting on our gear. He dared not speack to the woman in the group. He was more than friendly (and supremely odd) and asked where we were off to. Doing our best to be friendly and unassuming, we chatted with the suspicious male. We told him we were doing a loop around the area and were staying at Zion. He said that he, too, rode motorcycles (uh huh) and wore a bright jacket to be seen. It was a short and very unnerving “interview”. After a couple of minutes and some water, we geared back up and boarded our bikes for another tour around the hood. We passed yards filled with children, at least 14. The boys wore their long sleeved, button-up shirts and the girls the traditional dresses and braids. Even the young sprouts wore the get-up. Some children are allowed to go to school, others are not. It depends on who is leading that particular sect at the time. After Warren Jeffs was named the new son of the prophet, he stopped the flow of any outside influences including TV, newpapers, toys and books. Anything that went against their teachings was banned. Hey, you can’t lose any of the flock if they don’t know how good it is outside the religious walls, right? Many of the young teenage boys were forced to leave the city as they were seen as a threat to the higher powers. Why should these 14 year old girls be forced to marry someone their own age when there’s a perfectly good 80 year old man in the wings? Sick. Disgusting.

As we passed more houses and more families hanging around, I couldn’t help but think about all the brainwashing that is done in the name of religion. The women and children (and the weaker males) are told they are the chosen one’s and will be the only one’s to go to heaven, as long they obey and stay sweet. Like the Mormon religion, they are to have at least 6 months of rations at the ready for when the world as we know it ends (maybe be only a couple of months for the Mormon’s). This I have a very hard time believing. (Like I said in the beginning, turn your head if you don’t want to read what I have to say.) Like Scientology, the Mormon religion is one of the newest religions to be recognized. Why is one able to do some creative writing, make up some loony proclamations and ideas, and call it a religion? Are there really that many people in search of a direction who are willing to believe almost anything? How about going out and searching for answers yourself instead of being told what you should believe? I’m not a fan of any organized religion. Can you tell? Any sect who asks you to give, give, GIVE while sitting in a magnificently expensive house of worship listening to a Cadillac-driving preacher tell them how they should live so they can get into heaven ahead of the rest of us is complete bullshit. I’ve had friends who were barely able to put food on the table and instead of the church saying, “Hey, we understand your predicament and will gladly help you get back on your feet as you’ve been giving to us for years.” they were told, “You just need to learn how to budget better so you can still pay your tithing.” What the FUCK is THAT about? You can’t eat yet you’re STILL expected to make the preacher’s car payment?!? Call me a bitch. Call me a heartless asshole. But, I have a very hard time believing in any religion that still expects me to give till it hurts. And the idea of having food and water at the ready for when apocolypse happens is ludicrous. I don’t have time to prepare for the end of civilization. There are too many cool things I have yet to do. And if I’m wrong, you don’t have to share your rations with me.

So how do these people get their money? Well, Terry got the low-down from the locals in Springdale. First, their marriages aren’t “real”. The families get Medicare, food stamps and welfare from the state for each child. The wives are seen as single mothers. Second, many of the men own businesses that contract with the state. There are several polyg’s in the state government that see to it the polyg companies get the contracts. Third, in the state of Arizona, as long as your house is still under contruction, you don’t have to pay property taxes. Fourth, they are master grant writers. So, when the city needed new medical equipment, they studied the loopholes and began writing. They have the most state-of-the-art ambulance and medical services in the nation. Most contruction in the state of Utah is polyg labor. They can pretty much underbid any other company. These people are not stupid. They are conniving and defrauding the government. The men are raping young girls in the name of “religion” and the “prophet”. They are being forced into a lifestyle they do not want all because they are told some pasty, skinny, foul white guy had a “vision” from the prophet. It’s all bad. It’s all vile. When you see it for yourself, you want to scream and grab every last child to try and save them from their future. But it’s not a future. It’s a sentence, one they did not choose. Some are fortunate enough to escape their sentence, others are too scared of the unknown. Remember, they are taught that the outside world is bad and they are the only good one’s on earth. Hard to fathom, isn’t it?


This is going to be one of the few times that I will be a girl of a few words. I know, I KNOW, I tend to be a bit wordy (just a tad), but it’s the only way I can convey/describe/spew forth what’s rolling around in my brain. Those of you who know me well know this to be true…and then some… Having said (typed?) that, I’d really like to show you a shitload of pictures with some descriptions on the side. Though I do have one neat-o story about our first day in Zion.

So we really wanted to camp rightoff, but the weather was not cooperating (see previous post), we decided to spend a few days at the Best Western Inn in Springdale, approx. 1 1/2 miles from the park entrance. It was a great hotel complete with pool, hot tub and lots of climbers and foreigners making for vivid conversation. And because I/we were so, oh so exhausted from the first couple of days, my heart decided to go into A-Fib, aka Atrial Fibrillation. Nice. What does that mean exactly? Well, I’m tired, my heart feels a little thumpy, I drink something cold and BOOM!, my heart goes out of rhythm. And what do we do now, you may ask? Terry called the on-call doc (of course it happened on a Sunday and of course half of Utah is closed on Sunday), the on-call doc called a prescription into the big-ass WalMart in the town of Hurricane, about 40 minutes away…and they were going to close in about and hour. Fine. Okay, Jack outta the pool. Mama’s needs her pills! So we loaded up into the Yukon and sped our way to Hurricane. And how fast were we going? Well, fast enough to get pulled over 5 minutes away from our destination. Yes, boys and girls, we were able to talk our way out of a ticket. When we explained our situation to the officer, he just shook his head and said, “Man, I HATE medical emergencies.” Thanks again for letting us go. We got to the big-ass WalMart just in time. I got my meds and my heart got back in rhythm by the next morning. Moral of the story: Sleep is good.


The Great Basin Adventure

Hey kids! Sitting here in hotel room enjoying some Peet’s made with the JetBoil (Yes, I know the hotel has its own coffee and coffee maker, but you know it sucks!). Terry left at deer-thirty this morning for a 4 hour motorcycle dirt venture, Jack is beginning to stir, and I’d better spew forth some words before I’m hit by Hurricane Jack.

Saturday afternoon we took the motorcycles out for the maiden journey. We’re only about 6 miles from the Nevada/Utah border, so we headed east to check things out. But before we left Great Basin N.P., we signed up to tour the Lehman Caves (You remember stalagmite’s and stalactite’s from school, right?) at 1PM. Now, if you think you’re going to stock up on supplies at any of the small towns surrounding the park, you’re are oh so sorely mistaken. The town of Baker resides at the base of Great Basin. There are a handful of homes, some with cars out front, some actually inhabited. There are several businesses that closed up shop years ago and no real industry to speak of. So you’d think that a town such as Baker would have the feeling of desperation. Not so. The people that live here are friendly, upbeat and stuck in 1985. The 2 business that are open (a store/restaurant/bar and coffee shop/bakery/4-cabin hotel) are home to some very proud people. The restaurant/bar seems to be the hub of the town as they were preparing some BBQ for the Saturday evening rush.

After crossing into Utah and back into Nevada, just to say we did it and for the photo-op, we headed back up the mountain for our Lehman Caves tour. While we waited for the tour to begin, Terry met a guy (driving a semi with a 5th wheel attached, KTM motorcycle strapped onto the back and a yellow lab as his co-pilot) who was from, you guessed it, Auburn! Small world. Chatted it up with him for a while until it was tour time. The inside of the caves were completely awesome. Tom, remember touring the Shasta caves? These have them beat by several miles. The entire tour lasted about 1 1/2 hours and was full of very cool sites. Our tour guide, however, was such an ODD little dude. He was for sure the love child of a Star Trek fan and the kid that got shoved into the locker in high school. He did try his best with the jokes, I’ll give him that. There actually was a couple (dressed as cave-husband and wife – NO JOKE!) who lived in the caves in the early 1900’s. Also, several weddings were performed inside as well as a Hollywood movie shot in one of the sections. If you’re passing through, I highly recommend the tour…tell the quide we said “Live long and prosper”.

We sat on the steps of the Visitor’s Center after the tour and met yet another couple from the Tahoe area. They, too, rode motorcycles but were doing the mountain bike thing this trip. It’s amazing how something like a motorcycle can link you to so many people that you’d never think to talk to. It’s weird and I like it… And as we were on the steps taking a feeding frenzy break, I noticed a very menacing cloud looming over the mountain peak that was the back drop for our campsite. Hmmmmm…. “Uh, Terry, I think we’d better go back to our campsite NOW!” We threw our gear on, loaded up Jack, and headed into the great, black unknown. As we were riding the 3 miles to our campground, it began to rain. And then it began to snow. Are you fucking KIDDING ME?!?!? We all laughed just our of sheer disbelief. Against our bodies exhausting attempts at stopping us, we knew we were going to have to pack up and head out tonight. Damn! I really, really, REALLY don’t want to pack up wet gear and leave. Our campsite was covered in a fresh layer of slushy snow. Fucking perfect. We began the packing process, shoving wet tents and chairs into their carrying cases and covering cooking gear with plastic bags. I knew the only way we were going to live through this without committing a murder/suicide was to stay calm and try to lighten the mood. Didn’t work. I finally had to have a heart to heart with Terry. (Earlier in our trip, we promised each other that if the other was acting like a whiny brat, we would tell them to knock it off and stay in the moment, that moment being that we were away from home, on an adventure into the unknown and lots of things, good and bad, were going to happen. At least we weren’t home doing laundry or dealing with employees.) I finally broke through the icy persona and we got everything shoved into the truck. Though a little soggy and a lot muddy, we made it out just before the next ‘Cloud of Terror’ passed over. We were fortunate we got out in time.

Where were we headed? Well, seeing as there’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING, between Great Basin and Cedar City, Utah, we headed for Cedar City, one of the Mormon capitals of the world and just a motorcycle ride away from the polygamy town of Colorado City. We arrived in Cedar City around 10:30PM (add an hour for the time change) only to be awakened at 5:30AM by one of the 5 screaming children next door. I know, I know, I have a kid, too, but dammit, people, I gotta get some sleep!

And did we head into that cute little family environment of Colorado City where the men rule and the women sport those snappy little outfits? Later, my friends, later…

Moral of this day’s events: Perspective is everything. Just when you think you’re having a bad day, take a look at the guy in the wheelchair or the child going through chemo….how do you feel now? It’s not so bad, is it? Cheers.

Morning…OW! Where IS that 800 mg. Motrin bottle? A long night in the tent with only 1 ½ inches of foam between you and the ground can make one a little bit bitchy. Not to worry, though, we’re barely into our trip. It can only get better, eh? Not so fast there, snack shack. Let me first update ya’ll on the past 24 hours… It was quite an awesomely beautiful ride out of Fallon. Heading east on Highway 50, we soon came upon some salt flats. This vast expanse of white film covered the entire valley. Very cool. Because the valley was so white, locals had taken to spelling out names, sayings, blah, blah, blah in black and red lava rocks. Everything from “I Love Sue” to “” (not kidding) was written. I was itchin’ to be a part of it. But the highway is only 1 lane each way and even with almost NO ONE coming in either direction, you know that as soon as we pulled over, a traffic jam would appear. Then we spotted something called Sand Mountain to our left. No kidding, it is this hugely massive sand dune butted up against the mountain range. Now we HAD to pull over for a pic. Flashers on, head out of butt, we took our chances and squeezed over to the side as much as possible. And what are those black dots on the sand? They’re moving. Naw…are you serious?!? There are motorcycles jetting up and down the side of this sand mountain. Dude, I’m all for the thrill of adventure, it’s just the agony of defeat that scares the shit out of me. And while we were off to the side of the road, might as well check out the salt flat (I tasted it…it is indeed sodium). And how could I resist spelling out JACK using broken pieces of pavement? If you’re traveling along Highway 50 and spot Sand Mountain on your left, start looking right for Jack’s name. Our curiosity got the better of us and we headed down the dirt road to Sand Mountain. How could we not? We have no real schedule and just want to see and experience as much as we can in our 2 week voyage. As we got closer to the mountain, a plethora of quads and toy haulers came into view. Do I hear a banjo? Nope, country. Close enough. We were in awe of the balls (and beer) it took for these guys to race their quads up and down the side of this mountain. Couldn’t help but wonder what the hell happens when the liquid courage wears off and you realize what the hell it is you’re actually doing! We sat back for a while and watched the Redneck Races. Within minutes, two female park rangers came up to ask if we had a permit and if Terry was going to take his bike out for a sand spin. Sorry, ladies, but we brought all our marbles on this trip and plan on taking them all home with us. We did have a fabulous chat with one of the rangers. She’s traveled extensively and chatted it up about traveling by motorcycle. Totally dug her. What really made us chuckle was when she said there was a high “bubba factor” at the mountain. No shit! We (I) made a couple of sandwiches, bid the mountain and ranger farewell, and continued on our journey. If you ever get the chance to drive along Highway 50, I highly recommend it. Mountain ranges pierce the sky, valleys dotted with cattle and sage brush – it was all breathtaking. We made another stop at some petroglyphs. You remember those, at least if you stayed awake in any of your college anthropology classes. Having only seen them during slide presentations, I decided we should make a stop and check them out live and in person. They were tucked into the side of yet another mountain range and carved in limestone that wore shades of amber, salmon and orange. Looking at the area, you could picture Indian life way back when – men hiding atop the mountains as lookouts, women preparing meals, children running around catching lizards and snakes. It was time to get on the road again…I can’t wait to get on the road again… Stopped in Ely to grab some Jagermeister at the local liquor store. Dude. All I can say is check out the pic of the local flava…nuff said… After many hours on the road, we pulled up to Great Basin National Park. Awesome. Two out of the four campgrounds were still closed and the one’s that were open had no water. Fine. We brought our own for just such an occasion. We headed up, up, up the road to Upper Lehman Campground, elev. 7,500 feet. Ouch, my bloody nose! Seriously, we’ve all been blowin’ bloody boogers since Fallon and the skin on my hands have the texture of rough sandpaper. Soooo ladylike. We found a very cool spot near the stream that was teeming with iron as all the rocks within the flow were red. Want to know just how cold it is at night? There was still snow on the ground (with more to come…more on that later). Using my best Survivorman skills (LOVE that show!), I held my hand up to the sun and measured how much daylight we had left. Two hours. Time to light a fire under our butts (and in our fire pit) and get this camp set up cause as soon as that sun sets, it’s freezin’ time. While Terry unloaded the truck, Jack and I set forth gathering as many branches as possible. There was plenty of dry grass to start the fire, but slim pickin’s on the firewood. And DO NOT touch the poison oak!! Got the fire going (sorry, Survivorman, we had matches) and started on dinner. I’m tellin’ ya, eating polish dogs and potato salad by a campfire with your family is priceless. We were all bundled up in layers as the sun had set and were eager for our first nights attempt at sleeping in the tents. A few burnt marshmallows later, we hunkered down in our sleeping accommodations (Terry in one tent, Jack and I in the other) and settled down for a long night. The mercury was dipping well into the upper 30’s by the time Jack finally closed his eyes. He was so excited to be camping and, well, so were we. We all smelled of campfire and the outdoors with no desire to wash it away. And it did turn out to be a long night. If you’re a parent, you tend to wake up every time your child moves. I kept my headlamp on my head knowing that the night would be spent getting Jack back in his sleeping bag and putting his hat back on his head. The night did not disappoint. No worries, though, as the memories outweigh the lack of sleep. We all awoke around 7:30, a little sore from the lack of a mattress, but ready to start on some Jetboil coffee. Wait. Are those dark clouds above? Nah. It can’t rain or snow now – it’s May! Stay tuned, sports fans!


Road Trippin’ 2008

Well sports fans, here we are in BEAUTIFUL downtown Fallon, Nevada, the hub of fashion and sophistication. No, seriously, I saw a dude with two left feet walking (sorta) down the main drag.

We WERE going to head to Spain and Portugal, rent motorcycles and ride through southern Spain, but the ol’ dollar took a major *&!@ and we decided to see some of our own part of the world instead. And honestly, I don’t know why it took us this long to do it.

With motorcycles loaded, parts of mountain bikes on motorcycle trailor and stuffed in the Yukon along with all our stuff and 3 humans, we set forth on our adventure. “Hey, Sandy, how much stuff are you bringing?”, you may ask. Well, sister, let me tell ya…between snow and 80 degree weather, camping and hoteling, Vegas and dirt, we pretty much brought the entire second story of our house and few things from the downstairs motorcycle/workout/hobby room. Right now I’m sitting at the Best Western hotel computer as the WIFI cable they said “should work”, ahem, does not. Fine. Whatever. Onward we move…

We departed Davis around 4:15PM Thursday, 1 ½ hours later than the planned time…coulda been sooooo much worse. With Jack in his seat happily transfixed on the newly purchased DVD player (the other one OF COURSE crapped out before the trip), a cooler full o’ grub next to him for easy mangia access, we set forth on our journey. Our goal was to get to at least Fallon with our main Friday destination being Great Basin National Park in southeast Nevada. Terry threatened to bring a Geiger counter to Fallon…nice… We rolled into the Best Western to be greeted by Billy Bob and Jed hanging over the railing of the second floor. Billy Bob was wearing no shirt but sportin’ a bee-u-ti-ful farmer’s tan. Jed, on the other hand, was fully dressed but working on his fifth Keystone. Had Terry not been with me, it would’ve been ON!

Now let me tell you how special not only Fallon is, but Nevada as a whole. Not only can you lose your money while drunk (with no woman or hickey to show for your troubles), you can work for a company entitled BJ Inc. You gotta wonder what kinda overbites are floating around THAT secretarial pool. Our Best Western room is done in true Best Western style – clean but questionable. And what is that red stuff on the ceiling? Ick. Man, you have to love Fallon. Not only did we roll in on the first day of the “Llamas & More Llamas Show”, but there’s also a gathering for the National Day of Prayer. And what, you are so asking is scheduled for tomorrow? What could possibly follow today’s lineup? The “Friends of NRA Banquet” is holding their annual feast at the Convention Center. I ask you, how can you NOT dig such a dot on the map?!? I gotta get the fuck outta here… But wait! The “Gun Show” is this Saturday and Sunday! What? You gonna tell ol” Billy Bob and Jed you can’t make it? The Keystone’s on them and they just ripped the sleeves of their new shirts. Classic.

So my friends and acquaintances, I’m off to bed to lull myself to sleep with the sounds of 4X4’s racing on the main drag and coins dropping into the metal bins. Stay well, stay tuned, and stay cool…


Urban Adventure Race part 2

The Day of the Adventure Race
March 2007

So when one gets bored with conventional races (i.e. 10k’s, half marathon’s, blah, blah, blah), what does one venture to next? Or should I type ‘adventure’ to next? Ever heard of adventure racing? I know some of you have (Austen, Lew, Taryn). And the rest of you? Think running, mountain biking, orienteering, puzzle solving, rock climbing all on a fat ol’ dose of steroids. Piqued your interest, haven’t I…

So Taryn and I had been talking for some time about trying an adventure race. There are many different types depending on how many hours or days (yes, days) you want to spend racing. No shit, some of these races are 3 days long. We opted for the “stick your toe in the water to test the temp” race, also known as 30 miles/4-6 hours long. Plus, we didn’t have 6 hours a day, 7 days a week to train for anything longer. That whole “we have a life” thing can REALLY get in the way of monster training. Went to REI to grab an orienteering book as neither of us knew how to read a topo map. What is orienteering? Essentially, it’s reading a topography map to get to various designated points on the map. You use a compass for direction and your sneakered feet to run your ass to and from each point. In this particular race, we used our sneakered/roller blading/mountain biking feet. More on that later… You must be able to locate certain markers (mountain tops, rock formations) to make the trek to your destination easier. If you’re really good, you can make it in record time. If you’re like Taryn and I, you do your best not to get lost…at 2000 feet…in the thorny-ass, slate slidin’ hills of Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale?!? Arizona?!? Couldn’t you find something in California, ladies? Yes and no. The California races are held in the summer in (No thanks there, heat stroke!) and we didn’t want to wait. Hey, we’re always up for a road trip! No flying? Nope. Too hard to carry on the motorcycles. Plus the road time gave us time to try and understand how to read the FUCKING TOPOGRAPHY MAPS!!! Where’s the GPS when you need it?!? Sorry, kids, can’t use GPS during the race. Sigh. Shit. So we stopped our sniveling, boned up, and made it to Arizona in 13 hours. We spent our Friday on the motorcycles (see Part 1), then prepared for our Saturday race. Our 5AM check-in at REI made it an early Friday night for us.

We found ourselves wandering in the early morning dark of the Scottsdale REI along with approximately 20 other teams. Taryn and I tried our best not to look like rookies. We checked in and began setting up our transition area. Bikes? Check. Food and water? Check. Roller blades and scooter? Check. Wait, did you just type roller blades and scooter? Yup. They are optional if one team member doesn’t want to run during the first part and very, VERY necessary during the final leg of the race. All teams gathered about 10 minutes before the start to get instructions, tips and all general info. Hold the phone…there are at least 3 teams that are SPONSORED by Monster drink and various other big name companies. What the fuck did we sign up for? Sponsored teams?!? We had absofucking no idea what we were truly in for. Idiots. Come 4:58AM, Taryn was prepped to sprint while I was prepped to scooter. I’m not stupid. I know this girl can run FAST and, well, I can’t. The horn went off, we were handed our first topo map and away we flew. Literally. We had to find six points within a 3 mile radius and stamp our cards at each point. We made sure to keep our eyes on the sponsored teams (they were GONE in a flash, but still within view). I’m sorry, but did I forget to mention that we were doing this race in urban Scottsdale? Streets, cars, malls, you name it, we had to contend with it. Sorry, sidebar. So we were off and running/rolling. We’re crossing streets and fields and parking lots, keeping in constant communication and yelling to each other when we had spotted the orienteering markers. Back we made it to the transition area and up the rock climbing wall we went. Piece of cake. We were in 6th place. Fuck ya!!! On our bikes we flew, picked up the next series of maps and headed down the streets of Scottsdale to the mountains of Scottsdale. At the entrance to the mountains, we had to write down the word that was on the back of the entrance sign. I told you this race was tricky. Into the Arizona mountains we rode, narrow trails, miles upon miles of loose dirt, shale and cactus. We had three points to find, each very, very far away from the other. We tried our best to keep up with a 2-person guy team, but they headed off just a wee bit faster. Fuckers. Now we started gettin’ some altitude. Up, up, up we rode, unsure if we were on the right path (there were several to choose from). Then back down the trail came one of the sponsored teams. They had already found the first point. Are you fucking kidding me? Guess that’s why they’re sponsored. On we went along paths that were maybe 2 feet wide, lined with cactus, with mountain on one side and sheer drops on the other. How the hell were we going to survive this one? One slip of the front tire and we were sliding down the side. Ouch! Cactus needles hurt!!! There were many points that we had to carry our bikes up and down dry washes and riverbeds. There were boulders that we just couldn’t ride around. After about 45 minutes we found the first marker. It was a rock bench on the very point of a mountain. We had to write down the name of the person in which the bench was dedicated. Who the hell puts a bench way the fuck out here?!? Weirdos. Off to point number two. Back through the trails we went, stopping once to pee and grab a few bites of a Cliff bar. I just couldn’t pedal anymore – my legs were running on fumes and in desperate need for refueling and a 5 minute break.

There were many teams wandering the second mountain side in search of the second marker. Found it! It was severely hidden around a boulder, up and over the mountain top. One more. We were now a couple thousand feet up. Finally time to ride the back brake down the hill in pursuit of marker three. And we found it (thanks to Taryn’s exceptional map reading capabilities and sheer luck) in record time. The downhill portion totally rocked! Having done a fair amount of dirt trail riding as of late, I was quite prepared for a fast downhill ride. I got it. I wore a flat spot in my tire from sliding the back end around and riding on the brake. Awesome. Once back to the paved bike path, we had to ride several miles back to REI and our transition stations, but not before we were asked by one team where the first marker was. Seems that this 2-person testosterone team didn’t bother to go in order when finding the three markers. Guess what, boys, finding the first marker is going to take you 3-times as long as it would’ve had you started from the beginning, like the rest of us. Sucks to be you.

Back at the transition we found our next challenge. Foam rubber jousting!! Yes, sports fans, we had to ride our mountain bikes (no touching the ground!) while holding a foam sword and “spear” a circle on one side, turn the bike around, then “spear” the circle on the other side. THAT was fun. After the jousting, we had the choice to 1. Put together a PVC puzzle OR 2. Go the mall across the street and count how many zebras are in the carousel and find what the price is for a Dairy Queen brownie sundae. Well hell ya we wanted to run through the mall in our race duds! Any chance to look like a fool is gladly accepted. Sporting our camelbacks and bike helmets, we found what we needed then raced back to get our next assignment. Up next was a 6-mile loop through subdivisions and parks to find three words on markers. Taryn was on the scooter and I took the roller blades. Only problem this time was that Scottsdale was now awake and cars had taken over the once empty streets. Stoplights were now our enemies. Shit. Keep it moving. Our second marker was an electrical box at the top end of a neighborhood street. We trudged uphill, wrote down the numbers and looked down a very long, VERY steep road to get out. I swear, I almost killed myself 3 times trying to make it down that hill on the roller blades. I tried to ski it, ride the one brake while in a fetal position, whatever it took to keep from becoming roadkill. I was successful. Thank god ’cause there weren’t enough band aids for whatever spill I was going to take. We saw several other teams going like hell, too, to get to the final race marker. This was the win it or lose it moment of the race. Taryn and I expelled every single last drop of adrenaline we had left – it was kinda like trying to get that last bit of ketchup out of the bottom of the bottle. We were rollin’ fast, fiercely determined to beat all the other teams around us. But this last marker was tricky. The instructions said to stop at a certain city park, walk a certain amount of paces in a direction, turn 90 degrees, walk another set of paces, turn 90 degrees and look for a word written on a tree. There were 20 trees. One wrong pace or degree and we were screwed. But we weren’t. We found it. And just in time as 3 other teams were on our tail. It was one mile back to the finish line and we were NOT going to be bested by these other fools. Man, did we haul ASS!! We cut through parking lots, almost got hit by cars and scooted & skated as fast as 10 year olds. And we did it! We weren’t first but we weren’t last. We beat guy teams and race veterans. WE DID IT! Now, where’s that free after-race food that was promised? We stuffed ourselves with pizza and soda and swapped stories with the sponsored teams. And our race time? 5 hours, 19 minutes. The sponsored teams? Uh, ya, about 2 hours less. Buy hey, we did it, we survived and we have the scars to prove it. I got bit by more than one cactus and actually had a needle lodged in my leg for a while. We both had scratches all over our legs and layers of sweaty dirt. We smelled, we were beat up, but we were proud. We had once again conquered the unknown with a desire to try again….and again and again.

Did anyone eat it on any of the trails? Yes. This poor chick ate it 3 TIMES on the mountain bike portion and again on her roller blades coming down that steep road. Taryn and I were SOOOOOO lucky we didn’t kill ourselves in those mountains! I’m serious when I say it was treacherous but at the same time such a huge rush. These races are serious work and very, very dangerous. But the rewards…

We left for home right after the race. Our systems were screwy from all the bouncing around (also known as serious flatulence for at LEAST two hours after the race) and our bodies were spent. Our minds raced and our faces smiled as Taryn and I replayed the events of the day in our heads. We stayed the night at a hotel right next to Magic Mountain. Even after all the events of the day, was I tempted to take a few spins on a roller coaster? Of course! But I just didn’t have the energy to drag my sorry ass even 50 feet. So we hit the hotel grill, hotel bar, hotel hot tub and finally the hotel bed. We were proud but pooped.

So onward, my adventure seeking friends. Find something that makes you question your own abilities and do it! Don’t ask why, ask why not. Experience. Learn. Push your envelope. Just do SOMETHING that makes you feel alive, that reminds you why you got out of bed this morning and makes you question your sanity. Hell, if nothing else, it’ll make for a great story. Trust me.


300 Miles on The Motorcycles
March 2007

Welcome, sports fans, to another addition of “Sandy Tries to Kill Herself”. Yes, the year started off with a whizz-bang. No, seriously, we had to pee in the middle of a cactus field, but more on that pleasant topic later…

Remember my new companion-in-pain, Taryn? Well, she and I decided that a marathon just wasn’t going to do it this time around. (Come on, really. How much fun is it to run in a straight line for 26.2 miles? Ya, not much…) Our newest addition to the race family is the Adventure Race. What the hell is an adventure race, you’re asking? Ever seen the Eco-Challenge, Mark Burnett’s production before the days of Survivor? No? Damn. Okay, then think mountain biking, running, map reading, orienteering and rock climbing all thrown into one big pot, simmered for 4-5 hours and tossed out as one big pile o’ sweat and bruises. Makes you want to sign up for one right now, doesn’t it? Huh?!? You know you want to!

So we found the closest race possible…Phoenix, Arizona. I swear, it was the closest one offered at the right time of year. They hold these races all over California, Nevada and Arizona, many of them during the hot summer months. I mean, come on, Las Vegas in August?!? Puh-leese!! I know what you’re thinking about Phoenix, but it was seriously chilly for most of the race, THANK GOD! So, we drove down (me, Terry and Taryn), towing the motorcycles in hopes of escaping the day before the race for a “Blast to the Past” ride. More on that later… We left Davis around noon on a Thursday in mid-March with intentions of driving straight through to Phoenix. And we did. Longest damn ride in a car EVER. We made it there Friday morning around 1:30AM. Just a we bit tired. Got up actually faily early on Friday morn (when it was light out). We decided to ride the motorcycles up to Precott, through Jerome and back to Phoenix. The history behind this ride? Our very, very dear, close friend, Kris, lived in Prescott for many years. Unfortunately, he also passed away in Prescott in December 1998. It was a memorial ride of sorts. Prescott is about 1 hour 20 minutes north/northwest of Phoenix. And the wind on that day was enough to keep me awake and quite worried about how the ride was going to go. I mean, the gusts were upwards of 25-30 MPH. Fine. Neat. Fuck. So away we went, Taryn riding on the back of Terry’s bike, me clutching for control on mine.

Prescott was the same yet very, very different. Prescott, like most towns in the U.S., had been invaded by Wal-Mart, Target, and every other big box store imaginable. Yuck. When we saw that, we headed straight for the old downtown square hoping to find a place to eat. We ended up at the Gurley Street Grill, a place that held many memories of times with Kris. After a satisfying lunch and some reminiscing, we headed out for Jerome. Now Jerome is a town built into a mountainside. Think small, European village, the kind you see in all the travel mags. It’s a very windy, sometimes narrow drive to get to the top of the mountain, but oh, the views are so well worth it. Awesome. You can see for hundreds of miles. The town winds around the backside of the mountain for maybe 1/2 mile to a mile. Homes, shops and restaurants line the streets, open and inviting for all those willing to make the climb. I ended up purchasing a very cool ceramic vase that was fired with horse-tail hairs, creating a carbon design that adorns the outside in a beautiful spiral. For all those willing to take the journey, who enjoy small town life, Jerome is definitely a place to stop and check out.

Three hundred miles, 35 MPH wind gusts and one cool afternoon later, we were back at the hotel, doing shots of Jagger in the bar and preparing for the next day’s challenge. We made sandwiches and filled Camelbacks. We sliced fruit and orderd in from Olive Garden. Yes, I know, but it was close, it was open and it gave us carbs and protein. Beautiful. We had to check in at the REI store in Scottsdale before the sun even rose the following morning, so we had to prep quick, eat quick and get to bed.

Thus brings us to the end of Part 1. Why? I have a severely sprained right ankle, a 5 year old on summer break and need to get the laundry finished. Glamorous, ain’t it?!?! More on the ankle at a later date…


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