Words to live by...

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~Author Unknown

"A good wife is her husband's biggest fan -- no matter how crazy he is." ~Me

"May God give you.. For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." ~ Irish Blessing

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white...


Ok, seriously, I've said it before and I'll say it again: MOAB IS NOT A DESERT.

Our great plan to ride the White Rim over two days quickly got, for lack of a better word, stalled.

Thanksgiving was great. Yummy food, great company, happy times. We had a beautiful six hour drive out to Moab where we confidently drove down the Mineral Bottom switchbacks at 11 pm. Being a ginormous wuss, I was a little scared driving down these switchbacks set into a nice giant canyon wall. And it was dry. Luckily, Chris is a great driver and he got our car down safely and we settled in for a nice sleep before waking up at 6 am for our 100 + mile bike adventure.

Yep, me, riding 100+ miles on my mountain bike. And I was actually super excited. We had our gear dialed in -- me carrying a 13 pound pack, Chris's weighing more like 25 pounds. Lots of water, lots of delicious camping/riding food. We had warm clothes -- knowing the weather would be in the 40's, with a 20% chance of precipitation friday morning.

20%. Yeah, just like before the '06 24 Hours of Moab when there was a 20% of rain and we had the downpour of the century. Uh huh.

I woke up to an "OH SH##!" from Chris. I groggily asked if we slept in too late (typical of a Marni trip) and he said "Uhh, no, look outside." I sat up and saw this:Not clear enough? Hmmm. Let's open the door...

Hmmm? Desert? Yeah. Sure.

Now the big decision that we would struggle with for the rest of the trip: Do we try to get out of the canyon? It was a harder decision than you'd think. Afterall, we had enough supplies and warmth and food to get us through at least a week down where we'd parked... probably more. However, as the snow continued to dump in hand sized flakes, we knew the road would only get worse and thus definitely trapping us down there until it melted and then we'd have to outlast the ensuing mud. We also knew that mom had instructions to call the park if we didn't call by Sunday evening... we didn't want her to have to think the worst.

Chris and I rationalized that we'd know shortly up the road whether we'd make it up or not. We started up and the car was doing surprisingly well and the road relatively grippy. So we kept going. And going. This is my face as I tried hard not to freak out and make the situation even worse:
Yeah, we were driving up this -- Chris driving, me screaming on the inside...We made it halfway up the switchbacks and, well, that's where our plans got stuck. After sliding out a few times -- on a road little more than a car's width wide, on one side there's a big rock wall, on the other a 200 ft cliff -- we called our upward mission off. We even slide into the wall at one point which caused this:

We're not complaining though, one slide the other way and there would've been a much more tragic outcome. As we realized that we couldn't drive forward or straight without getting sucked back into the ditch, we made the decision to come up with a new plan. We both freaked out, but luckily at different times, so between the two of us we made the rational decision to stay put. Yeah. A little cockeyed on a slippery canyon road, but a decision nonetheless. I didn't take a picture of the car on the slippery slope for fear it would later haunt me should something bad happen. I feel content with that decision, although the scariness of the situation is hard to imagine without seeing a picture.

To get us out of the situation, Chris made the decision to bundle up, hop on his bike, and head up several miles in pedal deep snow to find some help. We decided that I'd stay with the car. As I watched Chris pedal into the still falling snow, I hoped he'd be back soon and that splitting up wouldn't be a decision we'd regret.

Truthfully, I had a few seconds of wanting to freak out over the situation (to me, it sounded like a Dateline story just waiting to happen), but I ultimately pulled myself together, bundled myself into our down pants and coats and tried to sleep.

I didn't allow myself to look at a clock. I didn't want to know how long Chris had been gone and I didn't want to look down and realize it had only been a few minutes.

I listened to the click of the emergency blinkers and I found a strange comfort in the sound. The way we were perched, I was a little afraid that the car would start sliding and head down the cliff. Irrational fear -- maybe. We propped rocks behind the tires just in case though. Still, any little noise made me think it was the car sliding. So the constant click, pop, click of the lights kept my mind off of the maybes.

Pretty soon I heard a SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL and worried it was some creepy canyon animal. Luckily, it was frozen-Chris. With ice in his "beard" he explained that he'd found some guys in a truck and they had called for help. It could be a while. A few hours? A day? We weren't sure. We settled into the car, pulled out the sleeping bags, and started a game of Travel Scrabble. I'm pretty sure I was losing, so it was good when the sheriff came tapping on our window to walk us out of the canyon.

I can now say I've ridden in the back of a Sheriff's truck on two separate occasions. Neither in Colorado. Both after snowy car "incidents". This time was much better than the last. Still, sitting under some large shotguns was a little unnerving.

Anyway, to make a long story slightly less long, we checked into the good old Super 8...
Showered and ate some Denny's...
Laid our gear out to dry...
And called around for chains. Chris found us some chains, put a call into Moab local Fred W in hopes of getting a ride back up to the car with the chains, and walked to the Napa several blocks away. As luck would have it, Chris ran into some friends from college in the parking lot of the bike shop. They very nicely agreed to take him up to the car and help him get it out (Erin/Shannon etc, if you ever read this, shoot us an email, I owe you girls and Tim and Ari? some freshly baked cookies at the very least). Chris called and told me what was going on and that he was headed back to the car.

I sat nervously in the hotel and did this:Watched an I Love Lucy marathon and a Dog Whisperer marathon...
And shoved my face with Chex "Muddy Buddies". Like half the bag. I was nervous, ok?

After lots of worrying, Chris called saying they'd gotten the car out. YAY! He came home, we relaxed, and then headed off to the Brewery for dinner. Not before seeing that our car had apparently ralphed up some Moab sand in the parking lot though...

So it wasn't 100 miles of riding. But we were really exhausted by the end of the day. Later I'll write about the rest of the weekend -- my first experience on Slickrock and a run-in with apparent food poisoning.

It was quite the weekend.

In the desert.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What's your happy place?

Let me preface this post by saying that I love my job. I really do. I love knowing I have some hand in shaping the future. I love the laughs that I experience every day. But seriously, after 31 kids have tapped on your leg to get your attention or you've tied 62 shoes for the tenth time today, you can go crazy.

This week I'm trying to go to my happy place.

While it's not my happy place, I stopped by a Hallmark store on the way home from work and WOW. Something about the peaceful smells, lack of loud sounds, and an abundance of Christmas decorations that completely (for lack of a better phrase) turned my frown upside down. I felt refreshed and I didn't even mind the one hour drive down 3 miles of accident traffic after that. I told the lady that works there that she just might see a lot more of me.

How sad is that?

Also, I am typing this while riding my trainer -- who knew you could start to feel motion sick from riding a bike strapped to a stationary trainer?




Monday, November 12, 2007


Happy Veterans Day!

I love a day off. Last night my sister-in-law, in hearing that I have today off, remarked that I "picked an easy gig" -- I'm not so sure about that, but I am happy to have the day off! After dealing with 31 rambunctious five, six, and seven year olds all week I think a day off now and then is necessary to my sanity.

Saturday Chris and I headed up Mt. Bierstadt to put 14er number 10 in the bag (with an attempt at #11 which didn't work out)... and our first "wintery" ascent. Who knew a 14er in the middle of November could be so nice? Anyway, I tend to steal the fun trip reports, so I'll leave this one for hubby's blog. We had a great time though!

Here are a few pictures:

Today my dad came up and tore out the last of our bushes that we started tearing out back in July or August. The guy can still swing an axe like it's nobody's business at almost 67 years old. Thanks for your help dad! Turbo and I enjoyed supervising! I also got some homework done (one day this masters will be worth it, but I sure hate doing homework again) and spent a lot of money on groceries.

Life is good.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Barrel of Monkeys

This weekend I had more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

And not even the fake ones.

More fun than a real, giant barrel full of monkeys with diapers, cigars, and unusually large hats... and seriously, what is more fun than that?

Ahhhhh, Fruita. That's what.

This weekend I learned to fly... I scared my legs into uncontrollable shaking at least five times... I fell in love with a bicycle (like, so in love that had there been a judge dressed like Elvis, I'd now have two wedding anniversaries to celebrate)... I had one of the best weekends in my life.

Here are the highlights:

After a cold night camping on Friday night, we woke up and had some delicious hot chocolate and bagel sandwiches. Chris and I noticed that Yeti was handing out '08 demo bikes for people to take on the trails and after much indecisiveness, I finally decided it'd be fun to try out a different bike. I'm glad I decided to go for it, the bike was unbelievably fun!

On Saturday we rode Mary's Loop and Horsethief Bench. The defining moment of the weekend was when I decided to ride down a super steep 15 foot long rock. As I stood at the top, trying to decide whether to ride it or walk it, I saw a small crowd gathering at the bottom to watch people ride down. I also noticed that almost all of the girls around were walking down. I knew I had to go for it. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and headed down. I grabbed a little too much back brake and ended up fish-tailing down most of it. Chris stood at the bottom, ready to catch me if I ate it (which was, in all honesty, a good possibility), but I rode it out and stopped at the bottom with shaky legs. Phew.

After this we had a great ride where I rode two or three more obstacles that would normally have me walking. At the end I rode down a series of ledges at a speed that would normally have me nauseous just watching. I felt good. I felt confident in the bike. I must've left my brain back in Denver.

Sunday we rode the 18 Road side of Fruita -- Prime Cut, Joe's Ridge, and Kessel Run. These trails were super fun, lots up quick ups and downs. During this ride I made my legs shake three times -- once coming down a little steep rock where I took in more speed than necessary, once riding down a super skinny ridge with a huge rut down the middle and sharp hills on each side, and my first time getting air off a little rock jump at the end of the day.

The little steep rock was fun, although I took too much speed down and that made for an interesting line. Chris made it look like a piece of cake -- both going down and UP. His bike control and skills still leave me amazed.

Joe's Ridge was, well, a ridge. Whoever Joe was, I don't know... but to be honest, he's not my favorite person in the world. I had been prewarned about this ridge. It took me three or four false starts before actually sucking up the courage to ride it. At one point I was ready to cry and walk it, but I knew I couldn't go through the whole weekend, pushing myself past my own limits so many times and walk this one stupid ridge. So I rode it. Eventually. But the important thing is that I rode it. Then my legs shook.

The last leg-shaking experience was The Jump. My face, in this now infamous picture, is a truly honest expression of fun, shock, and "oh crap"ness. I went a little fast into that jump and scared myself a bit. Then the legs shook. A lot.

So I tried it again. The second time felt a little more controlled.

Chris made it look easy!

After the ride, I reluctantly gave the Yeti back to the Yeti people -- saaaaaaaad -- and we drove home. Neither one of us were ready to get back to work and real life. Flying through the air with two wheels is addicting.

Those darn barrels of monkeys.