Saturday, March 29, 2008

Surviving The Desert

I survived a weekend in Death Valley. More impressively, I survived a weekend sharing a car/tent with my twin-carrying wife and my shit-eating dog. Here's a recap of the trip from the only point of view that matters (that would be mine). If you don't care what I have to say and just want to see some pics, here you go.

Thursday:
Surprisingly, we got the car loaded up and left just about on time. We decided to "split" the driving: I would drive to Ridgecrest, and then Shae would drive the rest of the way. Let's just say I now know that Ridgecrest is way past the halfway point of the trip. At least I got to enjoy the beautiful city of Trona as a passenger. Yay.

This seems like the right place to mention that Lunchbox might be the best car-dog ever. I'll have to check with the people at Guinness to see if he's tops in the world, but he's definitely the best I've seen. He didn't make a single sound the entire trip. He spent the trip silently sitting/laying on his bed in his little space in the car and enjoyed the ride. No crying, no whining, no pacing. OK, the Lunchbox bragging section of the blog (well, at least for this paragraph) is over.

Our first stop in Death Valley was at Stovepipe Wells to get some ice cream. Apparently this is a tradition of some sort, but I think it's just an excuse to eat ice cream. Either way I got a treat. It'll probably get mentioned below, but I just thought I'd get on record with the obvious: Death Valley is beautiful. (Also, there are very few dead people laying on the side of the road.)

Once we finished our ice cream it was time to go setup our campsite. Actually, we had to find it first. Shae's description of the road to our site: "It's just after an elevation sign." Somehow we found the little indentation on the rocks that doubles as the road to our campsite. (We would later discover that the "road" actually shows up on our Garmin navigation unit...gotta love technology). After driving about 4 miles down the road, we got to "Hole in the Wall" which is where we setup camp. I just want to point out that "Hole in the Wall" isn't a hole. It's a gap, or a break, or whatever but it's not a hole. Anyway, when we got to Gap in the Wall we found that the campsite we wanted was actually available and setup camp. As we finished setting up camp we realized we had somehow forgotten the pillows despite putting them right in front of the door. Oh well, I guess we'll be using spare blankets for pillows.

After setting up camp and eating dinner Shae took me to see Devil's Golf Course. It's cool and all, but my first reaction upon seeing Devil's Golf Course was, "this looks nothing like a golf course." Shae explained that it's called Devil's Golf Course because it would be torture to have to play golf on it. That makes more sense, so now I guess it's just cool.

And now, the fun part of our first day. One of the things about making your own campsite 4 miles away from the main road is that there aren't exactly restrooms around. Apparently, you are supposed to dig a hole, do your business, and bury it. That sounds fine until you show up with a dog who decides that this is the week his sense of smell is going to start working. About a minute after we let LB off his leash (in violation of the park regs...I hope a ranger doesn't pick tonight to drive all the way out here looking for dogs off leash) he starts digging up and eating crap (literally). Lunchbox is usually relatively obedient, but once he catches the smell of shit he couldn't care less what we want. All he wants is to dig up poop. Top dog my ass; I'm taking back his award. Guess our boy isn't going to be getting much freedom around camp.

A few games of Uno and Ziggity and it's time for bed. I learned my lesson from my last dog (hi Kuge): lab puppies sleeping on the bed are cute and fun, but full grow labs sleeping on the bed are not. Having learned from the past, Lunchbox has never been allowed up on the bed (he sleeps on his own bed on the ground next to our bed). Apparently this restriction does not apply to air mattresses. After about 10 seconds on his bed LB realized that there was no good reason he couldn't fit on the air mattress. So to recap our sleeping arrangements: we're using blankets for pillows and sharing an air mattress with a poop-eating lab. Super.

Friday:
After a night of being pushed off the bed by Lunchbox, Friday started with a bang (actually, more of a plop). One thing I failed to mention about Thursday was that LB had problems adjusting to the rocky terrain of our campsite. More specifically, he couldn't get comfortable enough to do his business. Well, on Friday morning he finally took his first dump since we left San Diego. It was freakin' huge. We were so proud. I had Shae clean it up while I congratulated the dog.

After the excitement of Lunchbox's load, we had some cereal for breakfast and headed out for the day. Our first stop was Inyo Mine. After a bit of a drive to the mine, we put LB's little shoes on and went out to explore the camp below the mine. Shae took pictures of the deserted buildings (lots of windows and doors) while I wandered around with the dog as he bounced around in his booties. Once we were done with the pictures it was time to hike up to the mine. The hike up to the mine wasn't very long but it was pretty steep. Shae's "condition" (aka her two parasites) made the hike tough for her but eventually we made it up to the mine entrance. We took a quick look inside the mine (we couldn't go too far because there was a section of the tunnel that was LB couldn't climb over) and then headed back down to the car and had some sandwiches.

After our mining expedition, we headed to Badwater so I could say I've been to the lowest point in North America. LB wasn't allowed to go out on the boardwalk, so we made the Badwater stop short. We stayed just long enough for Shae to snap a picture of me and then we headed out to Stovepipe Wells to meet the bulk of our group. We stopped at Furnace Creek on the way and picked up LB a Death Valley bandanna with a map of the park on it. We thought about putting a red X at our campsite and writing "We Are Here" so he could find his way home if he got lost, but then decided he'd probably just follow the scent of crap back to camp.

While we waited at Stovepipe Wells for Shae's parents (and everyone else) to arrive, we ended up talking to a few dog lovers who were hanging out by the store. They all seemed to love LB's shoes. One couple had recently gotten a lab puppy from the pound, and watching Lunchbox lie calmly in front of us they convinced themselves their dog would calm down as he got older. I didn't have the heart to tell them that their dog was actually a couple of months older than LB, or that the reason he was being so calm was that he had spent the whole morning running around the mine. I'll let them figure that out for themselves.

Eventually the group showed up (Tom, Grace, Cindy, Thomas, Erin, Brielle, Bob, Theresa, and James...take notes, there will be a test later) and off to camp we went. Shae decided to let me look like a man and drive. Little did I know that she would somehow avoid sitting in the driver's seat for the rest of the trip. Well played wifey. Well played.

Once we got back to camp everyone setup their tents, etc. and got settled in. I think it's safe to say that the quality of camping life changed a bit with everyone's arrival. Shae's parents brought along a toilet-tent so now instead of digging a hole to crap in we have a toilet to use, complete with chemical bags that eat our poop (like LB). For dinner, we had hash and eggs (with our leftover corned beef). Things are a little different than last night. Oh, and LB took another monster dump (a double-bagger). Lucky for you, LB has gotten over his problem crapping on rocks so this should be the last Lunchbox poop update (no guarantees though).

Saturday:
After another night spent being shoved off the air mattress by our dog, it was time to go do some more sight seeing. Today's agenda: Scotty's Castle and Ubehebe Crater. We loaded up the cars and our caravan headed to Scotty's Castle. Shae and I left the puppy with the grandparents and went on a tour of the castle. The tour was great and apparently we got a really good tour guide (I don't have a comparison, but I learned a lot about Death Valley and the "castle"). The main thing I learned? Scotty's Castle wasn't owned by Scotty. What the hell is it with these names? "Hole in the Wall" isn't a hole, "Devil's Golf Course" doesn't look like a golf course, and now "Scotty's Castle" isn't' actually Scotty's castle...I give up. Don't get me wrong, Scotty's Castle was great, and our tour guide did explain how the name came to be, but I'm still waiting to see dead people in Death Valley. None of these names make any sense.

At the start of our tour, the guide asked everyone where I was from. When I said "San Diego" she got all huffy and acted upset. I guess she's a UConn fan and USD beat them last night. Apparently it was also a pretty exciting game. I wouldn't know, we don't get CBS in the tent. Even if we did get CBS in the tent, it probably wouldn't be in HD so I wouldn't watch it anyway. You know where I could watch the games in HD? That's right, from my couch.

Our next stop was Ubehebe Crater. Somehow, this name actually makes sense. You know what it is? That's right, a big hole in the ground...a crater. In what I guess is an annual tradition, Tom and Thomas jumped out of the car and ran down to the bottom the crater and then hiked back up. For some reason, the trip back up took a lot longer than the trip down, especially for Tom. Oddly, he couldn't run back up the crater as fast as a 13 year old. Go figure.

And now, the big Death Valley event of the day: that's right, a fantasy baseball draft. My plan was for Shae and I to run out to the Visitor's Center (they have free wi-fi access), do the draft and then grab dinner at Furnace Creek or something. Somehow everyone in the group ended up getting at the Visitor's Center and sitting out in the parking lot while I drafted a fantasy baseball team. It didn't seem like anyone was too annoyed to be dragged along, so I guess it worked out.

After I finished my draft, we went to Furnace Creek to meet the last few members of our group (John, Brianna, and Ruben) and have some pizza. That's right, we're out here roughing it in Death Valley eating pizza for dinner. It's tough out here, but I think I'm strong enough to hold out for another day or two.

Sunday:
Well, LB decided it was time to kick Shae off the mattress for once, so I actually got a good night's sleep. Good thing, because I apparently have a lot of driving to do today. The agenda for the day was to head over to Rhyolite and Titus Canyon, but with Tom involved we made a few detours. The first detour was to go see "Chinese Camp" (at least that's what Tom called it, I haven't found it on a map anywhere). The road up to the camp actually made use of the 4-wheel drive in our Tribute. Looking at the road, Shae and Grace both voiced doubts our little SUV could make it up the road (I had my doubts too, but I'm a man and I was driving so I had to act like I thought it was no issue), but Tom said the car would make it so up we went. While the other drivers waited at the bottom in their trucks (probably with the same doubts that were voiced in our car), the Tribute went right up the road (I'm sure it was my excellent driving).

Thanks to my expert driving, we got to the old camp and got out to explore. This is where LB's little booties really paid off. I think he was actually exited when we put his shoes on. We let the puppy off his leash and he pretty much sprinted all over the camp as excited as I've seen him in a while. While we wandered around and Shae took some pictures, LB took turns running up to everyone in the group and generally having a super time. It was great seeing him have so much fun after being restricted to a leash and car the last few days.

After we left the camp, we continued on our trip over to Rhyolite. The trip over there is a decent drive, but apparently it needed some extra stops. Out came the GPS's. That's right...it's geocaching time! Here's my recap of the drive: drive, Shae says "stop in 1/4 mile", pull over, everyone out, find the cache, repeat. Eventually, the prego riding shotgun got hungry and cranky, so the geocaching got put on hold so we could feed her before she ate one of us.

To take care of hungry Shae (and to get some gas) we stopped at a gas station in Armagosa Valley. Let's just say that the stop was memorable (and it was obvious we were in Nevada at this point). There is no possible way I can do this stop justice, but I'm going to try. The first thing I noticed was that the mini-mart was bright pink. The second thing I noticed? An "Adult Entertainment" sign with an arrow pointing to a building next to the pink mini-mart ("Madame Butterfly's"). A strip club/brothel attached to the mini-mart was weird enough, but this one was complete with red lights and a gate you needed to be buzzed through (Mastercard accepted). I'm still trying to figure out what the light is for. Is it turned on when the ladies are busy? Available? In trouble? Pregnant? I don't think I'll ever know. Several of the light posts in the parking lot were crooked where they had been run into, probably by truckers, and I couldn't help but wonder if the truckers had been running away from the girls of Madame Butterfly's.

Once we were done at Madame Butterfly's we headed off to Rhyolite. Our first stop was at the Bottle House (a house made of bottles...another name that makes sense...crazy), but we were 15 minutes too late and they wouldn't let us in to look around. Oh well, there were a bunch of other buildings to look at. We wandered around and Shae took some pictures, but then an all-too-familiar feeling hit me and it was time to hit up the outhouse. If anyone's wondering, the outhouses in Rhyolite are actually quite clean. However, I just want to say that I can't think of many feelings more disturbing than a draft hitting your ass in an outhouse. I don't care how clean the outhouse is, that draft is coming from places I don't like to think about. I finished my business and got out of there as quick as I could.

After Shae was done taking pictures of windows and doors we left Rhyolite and headed for Titus Canyon. I don't want to gloss over Titus Canyon because it was beautiful, but there's not a lot else to say. We drove a while, stopped in Leadfield so Shae could take more pictures of windows and doors, drove some more, did some oooh-ing and aaah-ing, and we were done. Again, it was a really cool drive, but with no stories about Lunchbox, pregnant Shae, or pooping I don't have a whole lot to say.

After we finished with Titus Canyon, it was back to camp. Tonight's treat: margaritas. Thanks to Bob and Theresa's battery operated blender we sat around camp and enjoyed our strawberry margaritas. Again, life at camp is tough.

Monday:
Not a lot to say about Monday. We drove home. Lunchbox slept most of the way, and when we got home he could hardly wait to get out of the car and into the house. I guess he missed home.

Overall, the trip was really fun. Lunchbox had a great time, but he's definitely glad to be home where he gets to walk on carpet and grass instead of walking on rocks at the campsite. I hope he doesn't miss his shoes too much.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dancing Peanuts

I'm working on Death Valley recap, but until that's posted I thought I'd go ahead and give everyone an update on the babies.

Shae had another doctor's appointment on Tuesday and everything was fine. Well, almost everything. For the last few months, every time the mood strikes her (usually in the car) Shae breaks into a ridiculous "dance." Every time I give her the "Really? Stop. You're embarrassing yourself and everyone who's ever known you." look she plays the damn "The babies made me do it" card. (Also, the babies make her flip me off a lot and say a lot of mean things to their father.) Guess what those damn little sea monkeys were doing when doc fired up the ultrasound? Yup, they were dancing. Actually, the dance they were doing looked about the same as the spasms Shae has been blaming on them. Great, now I'm never going to hear the end of this. On the bright side, the doc didn't find anymore babies so I'm gonna call the appointment a good one.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Not Much Going On

Well, there isn't a lot to share since last week. Outside of the daily terror that is living with a hormonal Shae, things are pretty quiet here in the Lorigan household.

Sarah came down to San Diego last weekend to get her dose of Pat, Shae, and the Box. We took it pretty easy but we found time to take the dog out on a hike (shortened by the rain) and watch a few movies. Oh, and in anticipation of our trip to Death Valley this weekend, we got Lunchbox some booties. Shae swears he needs them because of the harsh terrain in the desert. I think she just wanted to watch this:

video

Shae and I are off to Death Valley until Monday. Somehow I agreed to this without realizing I was going to miss out on the opening weekend of March Madness. So instead of watching non-stop basketball action and watching my brackets fall apart I get to share a tent with a pregnant wife and a gassy dog. Actually, we're really looking forward to the weekend and hopefully Shae will have some pictures to post on her Daily Photo blog (I'm not sure she knows the meaning of the word daily).

Happy Easter to everyone, and good luck to everyone with their March Madness brackets.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Now You Have A Topic For Your Blog

Note: Waiting to publish this for a few weeks, but the posts below are being written on the dates indicated. If you get bored halfway through, you probably want to jump down to the end and read the last post before heading elsewhere on the world wide web.

2/13/2008:
"Now you have a topic for your blog. Happy Valentine's Day!"

That's what Shae said as she pulled out what looked like a thermometer from her purse. I couldn't figure out why she would be giving me a Valentine's Day present a day early, much less why she would give me a thermometer. Then she turned it over, and I saw "E.P.T" printed on the other side. I felt like I was in an after school special, except instead of being a 14 year old boy sleeping with his teacher I'm 29, married, with a house and a dog. Other than that, it's exactly the same. Shae's going to take another test tomorrow, but we all know how this is ending. I think I'll call him Lil' Pat.

2/14/2008:

Just to be sure, Shae peed on another stick. We got another plus sign. Time to call the parents. They're excited, I think Shae's dad just started building a crib. Seriously, I think he's in the shop right now

2/17/2008:
(2:00 pm) Today we finally got to the store to pick up some prenatal vitamins for Mrs. Prego. After hunting all over the CVS vitamin aisle, we finally found two brands of prenatal multi-vitamins. Of course, we had no way of deciding which one we needed. After reading the back of the packages we were still undecided, so we decided to ask the pharmacist for help. As Shae and I hung around waiting for the pharmacist to become available, I couldn't help feeling like a confused teenage kid again. Here we are, two almost-30-year-olds, and we are standing around waiting for the pharmacist so we can ask her which multi-vitamin is better. Screw it, we chose one and headed for the register. On the way, Shae stopped to grab some Cadbury Mini-Eggs from the Easter candy selection. I guess she's done with her diet.

(10:00 pm) We just watched "Knocked Up" because it seemed fitting. Last time I watched the movie it seemed funny. Now...not so much. A hormonal woman screaming at the man who got her pregnant isn't funny anymore. Comedy my ass; this movie just got moved over to the horror section of my DVD collection.

2/20/2008:
Today Shae found out that the smell of chocolate makes her nauseas. Great. So now I get to deal with a hormonal woman who can't eat chocolate (of course, she's supposedly avoiding caffeine anyway, but I almost lost my head two days ago when I pointed out that chocolate has caffeine). Oh, and she's really gassy. I get to sit on the couch with Shae farting next to me and Lunchbox farting at me feet. Super. These next 8 months are going to be awesome. I can't wait.

2/27/2008:
Normally on Wednesday nights Shae makes me watch "Supernanny" right after it records (not live of course, that would just be crazy). Tonight, she decided she'd rather watch something else because she wasn't in the mood for a "scary show". I guess there's a bright side to scary-hormonal-Shae after all.

2/28/2008:
That bright side of scary-hormonal-Shae didn't last very long. It was my morning to feed the dog, but due to our painting adventures I didn't have access to my robe (not to mention I'm getting over being sick) so I asked Shae if she could take care of LB today. It's incredible I didn't lose a hand or an arm. "YOUR ROBE IS IN THE GUEST ROOM!!! JUST GO PUT IT ON!!! I'M NOT WEARING PANTS EITHER!!!" (Somehow Shae overlooked the fact that she has worn pajama bottoms to bed pretty much every night since we get married.) Then she got up, stormed out of the room, threw open the back door and fed the dog. She proceeded to be generally pissed at me until I left for work. Of course, when I stopped by The Learning Garden after work Shae was all hugs and kisses. Apparently she also broke down and cried during an episode of some baby show this morning. I love my wives...well, most of them.

3/1/2008:
We finally went to see Juno today. Like everyone else says, it was a good movie. I just have a few comments. According to Shae, they nailed the expression on the Arrested Development/Superbad kid's face when Juno tells him she's pregnant ("That's the exact look you had on your face"). Also, in the scene where Juno tells her parents she's pregnant and complains she hasn't shit "since Wednesday" Shae leaned over and whispered, "I haven't shit since Wednesday either." Shae's shitting success is becoming a much bigger part of my daily life than I could ever have imagined.

3/3/2008:
Shae finally took a dump today. Apparently this is a big deal. She's really excited. Oh yeah, and we made our first appointment with the doctor for next Monday.

3/7/2008:
Shae's starting to show already. You know what that means? That's right...maternity pants! I'm pretty sure that's the only part of this whole pregnancy thing I'm going to be jealous of. I want to wear pants with an elastic waistband. I think we're going to have to start telling people pretty soon, it's starting to get obvious.

3/10/2008:
We finally saw the doctor today, and I think it's pretty safe to say things were a lot different at 10:00 than when I woke up. For starters, I think I'm going to like our doc. When discussing Shae's boobs (one of my favorite subjects), she put my feelings perfectly (no need to quote here, but let's just say there something wrong with making boobs bigger but then making them hurt so bad that the hubby can't even look at them without getting in trouble). Shae peed in a cup, and I guess the rabbit died because out came the ultrasound machine. This is where it got fun.

Pointing at one blob on the screen doc said "There's your baby." Then, pointing to another spot on the screen "And what's that over there?" (I thought she was the doctor, why the hell is she asking us questions?) You know what that was? ANOTHER FREAKIN' BABY!! That's right, there are two little nuts growing inside Shae; she has two sacks. (Sorry, but I just can't pass up any opportunity to talk about nuts and sacks, even in a blog post about babies.)

I just stood there feeling like I did when Shae first told me she was pregnant. Apparently, I also had exactly the same look. You know what's not funny anymore? All of the "twins run in my family" comments Shae made over the past month or so. I hope she's happy.

Eventually I snapped out of my daze and staggered out of the office. After the nurse gave us directions to the office to get Shae's blood work done I asked her if there was a stop along the way where I could get my boys snipped. There wasn't so I guess I have something to do tomorrow on my lunch break.

Right now, I'd have to say I'm still in shock but I'm slowly coming around and starting to get excited. I had just gotten used to the idea of one kid and now I have to get used to the idea of having two. Shae's excited, but a little scared about how big she's going to get. Her quote: "Now we have a pee-stick for each kid." Glad to see we're focusing on the important stuff.

Shae decided it's time to start telling people and posted the ultrasound pic on her Myspace page so I guess it's time to publish this. Enjoy (or don't, too late now you already read it).

Here's a pic of the peanuts:

Humps & Cruises (Mom's Weekend in SD)

A quick recap of Mom's birthday weekend visit to San Diego.

Friday:
The weekend started off with some fireworks on the way home from the airport. Not everyone would setup a fireworks show over the bay to celebrate their mom's arrival in town, but that's how we roll Either that, or she just happened to fly in at the right moment. I'm sticking with the version that gives me credit. (Actually, the weekend started off with me and Shae hurrying to get the guest room cleaned up from our painting adventures in time for my mom's arrival, but we're starting this story from when the plane touched down.)

Saturday:
And now time for the humps and cruises. My mom wanted to see some of Lunchbox's dog park fun so we loaded up the pup and headed to the park. Of course, the one day we were hoping for lots of dogs the park was almost deserted. The only dogs there that showed any interest in Lunchbox were a pit bull and a black lab. The lab growled and barked at LB, and the pit bull...wow. The entire time we were there the pit bull kept trying to hump our puppy. Heads or tails, it didn't matter...the pit humped Lunchbox any way he could catch him. The pit bull's owners made a few half hearted attempts at pushing their dog off and LB kept trying to get the pit to run around and play, but eventually it just turned into Shae and I taking turns pushing the pit bull off of our dog. After about 20 minutes of that we got tired of dealing with the other dog and left. I swear, usually the park's a lot more fun and entertaining. At least no one stepped in crap.

After a trip home and a quick nap, we headed out for the main attraction: a dinner cruise around the bay. Since we got downtown early (the cruise boarded at 7:30), we headed over to Seaport Village to kill some time. Walk, store, walk, store, walk, cookie, store walk. That pretty much sums up Seaport Village (from my POV; Shaes's take: "Boats, birds, sunsets, kites, pretty."). Eventually it was time for the cruise. Not a lot to say, except the food was good, so was the view, and overall it was a great time. Happy birthday Mom!

Sunday:
Pretty relaxed day. With the time change and our relaxed pace, our day was basically breakfast and a trip to the airport. No fireworks this time, but we did have the puppy with us to say goodbye.