Sunday, August 21, 2011

Birthday Camping Part 1

 Kelly has a great group of friends.  Almost daily, I am so grateful that we put her ahead a year, rather than letting her go through school with the group of kids her own age.

Two of her best friends had a birthday last month, and their mom decided to do a "Beach Camping Birthday Party" for them.

That was this past week.

While Krista was planning this, she'd talked with me about how she was just a little bit apprehensive about taking upwards of 10 girls camping, and being the only adult.  Without thinking, I said "oh, I think this would be a fun thing to chaperone", and before you know it, I was the second 'responsible adult' on the trip.

We left civilization at noon on Thursday, heading south towards the beach.  It was a sunny and clear morning, but as we looked westward, there was a thick blanket of fog pushing over the mountain range between us and the coast.  This did not bode terribly well for 'fun in the sun', but we brought extra layers, and hoped for the best.

By the time we got to Santa Cruz, and turned south on the 1, the temperatures were hovering in the 50s, and it was very, very grey.

We got to the campground in time for a late lunch, and immediately put on all the warm clothes we could find.  The wind was picking up.

(as a fun aside:  I pull up to the ranger station in my van, after my girlfriend (who has all the 12 year old campers in her car goes through).  The ranger looks at me, and says "Man, you look familiar", and i echoed the sentiment.  Turns out she had been Kelly's Horse Camp counselor after second and third grade.  Everyone sing along with me "It's a small world, after all!".)

Anyways, we get to the campground, but we're a bit early, and the people in our site haven't cleared out yet, so we go to the picnic area, and have lunch.  Then, to warm up a bit more, we loaded up all the gear from the vans, and had the girls turn into sherpas for the walk to the campsite.

It was cold, so all the hiking, and heavy loading was good to keep the girls warm.  We set up camp under cold grey skies.

And just as the tents were pitched, the sun burned through the fog, and we were left with a glorious afternoon.

There were a gazillion steps from the campsite down to the beach.  You don't want to forget anything at the top, and have to go back up.  But of course, I did have to make the trip a couple of times.  I looked at it as 'instead of going to the gym'.

But look at the beach!

But hold on a minute... what's that out in the waves?

Let's take a closer look.

Yup.  The girls boogie-boarded with the dolphins.

But my goodness, was the water EVER cold.  I have NO idea how they stayed out in it for so long.  but soon they were needing a chance to warm up, and out onto the warm sand they came.

And a little bit of fun with a kite...
Just as the girls were getting ready to go back into the water one last time before sunset, this enormous cloud of birds came swirling down the coast.  They were a mix of several species.  Gulls and pellicans, for sure, but the majority of birds were just smaller than a gull, and darker colored.

It was just spectacular to watch.  It must have been nearly a quarter of a mile across.  This is just a tiny section of the swarm.  I wanted to get in closer, so I might be able to identify the majority bird in the swarm, but I just couldn't.

Anyways, the sun was hanging lower in the sky, so it was soon time to head back to camp for supper and dry, warm clothes.

It was delicious.  Pasta, and barbecued chicken and burgers on toasted buns.
And then it was time to build a fire and tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows.

Quiet hours started at 10, so at 9, once things were getting really chilly, we packed it in, and the girls went into their jumbo tent to play Dixit and Pictionary.  And once 10 hit, we made sure that the girls turned off the lantern, and quieted right down.  I kind of wish we hadn't, though, because there was a crowd of drunken yahoos in the next campsite, and they weren't feeling terribly law-abiding, once they'd finished off their 3rd bottle of Jack Daniels.  They were whooping and hollering until well after 1am.  Of course, I heard very little, as I was nearly dead to the world five minutes after my head hit the very hard pillow on the very hard dirt.

I'll get to the second part of this narrative tomorrow, after I get in touch with the pediatric orthopedists.  I'm hoping that they'll see Kelly first thing in the morning.  And then i'll need to find some free wifi, as PG&E  is shutting down the power in our neighbourhood all day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Stanford Excitement

 I went camping with Kelly and five of her girlfriends on Thursday, and have nearly 800 photos of the event.  They went surfing with porpoises spy-hopping in the background, and had a grand time the next day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

But my photo-editing was cut short yesterday, barely an hour after we got back.  I still hadn't unpacked my van when I got a call from Kelly's basketball coach.

"Um, I think Kelly may have hurt herself.  She fell during drills, and is holding her arm kind of funny"

Fortunately, Ken was on his way home, and could meet us at a central location.  With rush hour, I couldn't get to the gym, and we finally all coordinated at the coach's house.  Kelly looked a little fragile, but I wasn't sure if it was an actual injury, or if she was just still run-down from a night of camping on the beach, next door to drunken yahoos, who were up hooting and pissing in the bushes until nearly 4am.

So I deferred to Ken.  He knows all about broken bones, and joint injuries.  And while I took Skip and Nate to an overnight youth event at our church, Ken decided to take Kelly to the ER.

A little while later, after I'd run a few errands, I got a text "At Stanford ER.  It's broken"

So Nate and I headed down to the hospital.

I've gotta say I am MOST impressed with the level of customer care before you even walk in the door at that hospital. I pulled into the ER parking lot, and a security guy came up to my car, and asked if he could help me.

"My husband just brought my daughter in here.  I don't know where she is..."

"Not a problem, Ma'am.  Go over there, see that gate?  I'm going to remotely open it, and there's a secure parking space waiting for you."

And sure enough, ER 'guest parking" was available to me, and I pulled right in.  And when I went into the ER, there was a gate like you'd go through at airport security.  And when I went up to it, he was really kind, almost apologetic that he'd have to look in my purse.  Heck!  Go right ahead.  I like feeling secure.

And then he said "What's wrong?  Is this little guy sick?" looking at Nate.

"No, my husband brought my daughter in.  She broke her arm."

"Oh!  Tall guy?  Really loud shirt?  I remember him." (um, yeah.  Fridays, Ken wears these garish Hawaiian shirts.  It's his work-wear tradition) "Come on in."

And so he gave us masks (everyone wears them in the waiting room.  Just in case).

 And we walked in.  At the desk inside the waiting room, they knew who I was, and escorted me right back into the critical care unit.

And there they were.

Yup.  It was a broken arm.  A Barton's palmar fracture of the distal radius, AND a Smith's fracture.  Go big or go home, I guess.  It would require a reduction, which is a less-scary word for "resetting the bones, by wrestling the arm into submission and pulling it like taffy".

It does kind of look like a banana.  And from this angle, it doesn't look too displaced.  But looking down on it?  That's where you saw the 'things not found in nature' look of the thing.

We opted for conscious sedation, rather than just a little bit of local freezing.  I'm really glad we did.  The procedure to reset the bone was really rather intense.

When it was time for the IV to get put in, Ken knew what to do.  Better to cover one's face with the daughter's sweater and look goofy, than to pass out, and look completely inane.

Kelly was completely fascinated with all the procedures.  She watched the IV, and the blood pressure cuff, and the fingertip oxygen monitor, and asked pretty good questions, which the nurse answered thoroughly, and in a way she could understand.

And once all the needles, and gadgets, and wires and tubes were attached to her, it was time for the procedure to begin.

Just waiting a little bit, for the anxiety to drop a bit...

She used my purse as a bolster, to keep her elbow from sagging.  It helped with the pain.  Or maybe that was the vicodin talking...

Anyways.  The procedure itself was really very intense.  Ken took Nate away, because siblings were absolutely verboten.  It would've freaked him out anyways.  It looked like the two orthopedists were trying to pull her hand off of her arm.  They did it under a fluoroscope, so they could get real-time x-rays of the bones as they were being set.  Fascinating, but kind of creepy.  And add to the fact that Kelly was in conscious sedation, hopped up on Ketamine, which made her look halfway comatose, and it was kind of hard to watch.

But just as quickly as she'd gone under the sedation, she came out of it.  At first, she was pretty loopy, and her eyes didn't move in concert, which was kind of funny.  And then she slowly started coming back to who she was.

(Nate photobombs, at 1130pm.  It's almost like he got slipped a little bit of the happy juice, too.)

We could have sold tickets to the show, as she came out of the sedation.  It was really, really funny.

"Whoa... um... hello... I know you... and you... I don't know you... wow, you have NICE hair... do I know you?  You touched my feet.  You have nice hair, too...Mom, you are petting my head... WHOA!  I have a cast..." (as she notices her arm for the first time)  "... Did you know I have a cast... you have three eyes.  Do you usually have three eyes?  Mom, the nurse has three eyes.  You don't, though... WHOA!  I have a cast!" (as her eyes cast around, and focus on her arm again) "...Where is the guy with the nice hair.  The guy that fixed my arm had really nice hair, didn't he?  I don't remember getting my arm fixed...  WHOA!  I have a cast!  Um.. you have nice hair, too.  But he had nicer hair.  I saw you out in the hallway.  I had a dream, like we were a wii game.  You were there.  And he was there.  And the guy with the nice hair.  And the other guy with nice hair.  WHOA!  I have a cast!"

We could hardly keep ourselves from laughing.  It was COMPLETELY entertaining!

We ended up getting discharged around 1am, and went home to a VERY belated supper at 130.  Ramen never tasted so good.

It's a pretty serious break, and we'll have to follow up with an orthopedist on Monday.  Just in time for school to start again.  Whee.  Until then, Kelly will be riding on the vicodin train as needed.

Oh man.  three of Kelly's friends just showed up at our front door.  They made this fantastic tear-jerkingly endearing i-Movie for Kelly to get well soon, and then brought chocolate covered strawberries.

She has great friends.  If I get a copy of the i-movie, I'll see if I can rip it to youtube, and share it.  You'll all cry.

But I'm not sharing the strawberries.  They're delicious.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Whistler Happenings

 Kelly and I just came back from a free Jason Mraz concert in the park at Whistler. We got there well after it had started, and were standing way back.  The acoustics in the park were really rather good, so we didn't need to see to hear perfectly.  But then I thought I'd see how close we could get.

We snaked around the edge of the lawns, and in front of shops and across a gravel parking lot, and the next thing I knew we were right at the edge of the stage.  How did that happen?

I took a few photos.  I'll have to upload them when we get to our next destination.  We're leaving pretty early in the morning and driving across the middle of the province to end up in Kelowna shortly after noon.

But I do want to post the photo of Jason winking at me.  Actually, he was probably winking at Kelly.  Which makes him a dirty old man in my books.  Heh.

We took Ken's mom out for supper tonight.  We cooked in the room for the kids, and then put Skip in charge of all the cousins.  Then Ken and his brother Drew (visiting from the UAE) and mom and I went off to look for a sit-down supper where we didn't have to worry about finding a kids' menu.

We had a lovely supper, sitting out on the patio, looking out over the snow-capped mountains.  The food was very nice, but the portions were tiny, and the prices were steep for what you got.  But it was the experience.  And I'm not dwelling on the watered-down Long Island Iced Tea special that came in the moral equivalent of a shot glass.

I have found souvenir shirts for all the kids.  And i even snagged a nice fleece for myself.  Usually,  I am 3 or 4 hours away, driving in the opposite direction, when I finally say "You know, it WOULD have been nice if I'd bought thus-and-so", and by then the opportunity has passed.  But this time, I'll have the perfect winter jacket once I get back to California.  And it was half price.

The kids had a blast in the pool while we were here.  The waterslide was one of the big hits, although I think that the herd of them just enjoyed bouncing around in the water with the cousins whenever they were in the water.  And Skip, playing the role of benevolent Much Older Cousin, tossed anyone who wanted to.  He'd submerge himself, the little cousin would stand on his hands, and then he'd launch out of the water like Shamu, shooting the cousin in whichever direction they were pointing.  I'm pleased to report that no heads bonked (well, there was just that one time...) and no strangers were assaulted.  There are photos.  Oh yes.

We did this thing called the Adventure Zone.  You buy a multi-pass ticket, and get 15 rides on whichever of the places you want to spend your tickets.  The kids, then, got 3 shots each yesterday.   There was a bungy-jumping place, and a rock climbing wall, and a few things geared for the younger set, and then there was this mountain luge place.  That was maybe the biggest hit.

Yesterday, Cousin Greg (he who introduced Ken and I to each other, all those years ago) went down the luge with his daughter (Kelly's new BFF), and nearly fell off, getting a nasty set of skinned patches where the slick (and toasty hot) stainless steel luge run rubbed off his skin.  Today, I did exactly the same thing when I went down the run with Kelly.  Ken had the camera, and actually got part of it on film.

But I didn't want to talk about that.  I wanted to mention that Skip and Nate had been seeing if they could set the daily speed record.  Nate went down this morning, going for all he could, only to nearly collide with a woman who had decided to STOP HER LUGE in the middle of the run.  Everyone was shouting, and Nate managed to brake in time, but it gave him a top speed of exactly ZERO kmh.  Fortunately, the guy running the ride gave Nate another ride.  Even though it's the rear rider's responsibility if there's a collision, you are NOT supposed to stop mid-ride.  And then we discovered, after the lady had gotten off the ride, that she'd stopped BECAUSE THERE WAS A BEAR ON THE TRACK.

So we all ran around like maniacs, trying to see the bear.

Ken's brother and youngest son managed to see the bear (and her CUB!), before they ran off into the woods, but I was too late, as I'd been off photographing two of the kids going up the rock climbing wall.
So you'll just have to take my word for it that there was ANOTHER bear.

I must say that I am most impressed with the calibre of meals that I've been able to pull off by ONLY shopping at the little corner store that's in the basement of the Intrawest Time Share, here at Blackcomb.  Today, lunch was a few loaves of bread (both fresh and lovely), with a jar each of peanut butter and Nutella.  Then I cut up some fuji apples, and handed out baby carrots.  Everyone ate until they were stuffed, and there were 3 carrots left, and a slice of bread.  We all ate by the pool, too, which gave it a nice feel.   It was the last time we were together with Ken's cousin, as he and his family had to head back to Vancouver immediately after lunch.  There were some tears shed.   But I have huge confidence that we will see them again in 2 years.  His folks live in Vancouver (they were the first people that we went to, to show off my engagement ring, after we got engaged 22 years ago), and he and his family visit every other summer.  This makes THREE times in a row that we've managed to coincide with our vacations meshing (nearly completely by accident, I might add).  Next time, we've promised each other that we will coordinate, so we can get better hotel rooms, by booking earlier.  And I have also made them the offer that i make to all the cousins.  When girl cousins turn 16, they can come to stay with us in California for part of the summer.  Kelly thinks that having Kristen would be just the best thing ever.  And that's only 4 years away.

Tomorrow we head to the Okanagan.  Sunday, Kelly and Nate go off to summer camp.  Monday?  I'm sleeping in.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Victoria and Whistler

 It's a whirlwind.

I need sleep.

We have done so much.  The families are getting along famously.  I'm sure everyone will cry tomorrow when we start going our separate ways.

But you know what?


And not just one bear.  We saw a mother bear with two cute, positively ADORABLE little baby cubs.  The cuteness, it is to die for.

But nobody died.  We kept our distance.


But man, so much to talk about.  I need to schedule time to blog.  Maybe next week when the littles are at camp, and I actually have some free time.

We've been mountain biking.  Nate was a stunt man in the truest sense of the word.  My cousin and I both said "Man, if ONLY I'd had my camera out..." when he went OVER the handlebars of his bike, and into the arms of his uncle, just before he would have barrelled through a stop sign and into traffic if his bike hadn't stopped by crashing into a bike going in the other direction.  Yes, it was that spectacular.  And he wasn't hurt at all.  Just very surprised and shaken up.  And we got lost finding Lost Lake (That's why it has that name, apparently), and ended up on rental bikes in the middle of nowhere, and my nephew ditched his bike in the gravel, and completely gouged up his knee, and we realized we had NO first aid kit, but fortunately, it was hot, so I took off my shirt, and they used that as a bandage and a blood mop-up kit.  Hooray for $2 shirts from the thrift store.

And then we've been going to the Mongolie Grill for suppers, because you can pick what you want to eat, and our kids are pretty good about not taking too much, so the cost is minimal.  And the chefs all know us, and do little tricks, and let us ring the bells.  Got photos  of that somehwere, too.

And the water slide!  I must talk about the water slides.  Or maybe the trail horses on the mountain.  Or the waterfall that we saw yesterday that we hadn't seen since we were there 22 years ago on our honeymoon.
True Confections.   Gotta talk about that.  When we were newlyweds, Ken and I would walk to their first location.  They opened just before we were married.  It's a dessert restaurant.  We'd walk the 3km to the place, have a decadent dessert, and then walk home, to burn off the calories.  We took the kids there during our transit from Victoria to Whistler.  Yes, we're THOSE parents... the ones that say "Lunch time... how about chocolate cake and soda?"  And we have the photos to show for it.  And then we bought a whole cake to take up to Whistler for a treat for the family reunion.  Tonight, at supper, we said "oh!  What a great idea, we can have that cake!" and then realized that we'd LEFT IT IN THE FRIDGE AT  THE PREVIOUS HOTEL.

Yeah, that was a bit of a bummer.

I made dinner for 14 this evening in our hotel room.  And I did it all with stuff I managed to find for sale in a corner store.  And folks ate it, and they liked it.  Maybe I was helped along by the fact that we'd spent the whole day outdoors, and we were all sunburnt and exhausted, and I bet that if I'd served Sweet Tart Fricassee, with easy-cheese folks would've jumped for joy.  Of course, I didn't serve that here tonight.  You can't get easy cheese in Canada.

Well, I'm rambling.  Sleep deprivation will do that to a gal.

Tomorrow is a hike up Blackcomb, and maybe another shot at the waterslide here at the hotel.  And maybe a trail ride.  Or we could rent mountain bikes and try NOT to get lost this time.  And I still need to shop for souvenirs.  I have my eye on a nice fleece jacket, and a funny bear-themed shirt for Skip.  Nate and Kelly need something - anything - that says "Canada" on it.  Kitchy as it may be, they love the stuff.  And I do, too.

And now i need to start going through the 1340 shots that I've taken here over the last 2 days.

I need to show some restraint.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Canada Begins

 We left California at 5am on Saturday.

We were an hour behind schedule.  But I made good time, and didn't let the car stop until we ran out of gas 350 miles later.  As I drove, I watched the sun rise over hot-air balloons being filled just north of San Francisco.  And 16 hours later, we watched the sun set over the Olympic Mountains, as we took the last ferry from Port Angeles, WA, to Victoria, BC.

We pulled into Grandma's driveway at midnight, and tiptoed in to our waiting beds.  Grandma is amazing at organizing stuff, and getting stuff done,

And it was all worth it, so we could spend all of yesterday with the cousins, who are also visiting from Dubai.

And, as an added bonus, it's BC's 140th birthday.

And there were festivities.

And free flags.

Happy Birthday BC.

I should see if I can dredge up a copy of me with a flag like this from 1971... BC's 100th birthday...
Whoops... it was 1967... Canada's 100th birthday.

Oh well.  I was close.

Today is a day of fun in Victoria.  Maybe going to a park.  Maybe playing on the Cement Animals.  Maybe going downtown again, and looking for special tea and sweatshirts.  Yeah.  I  have high aspirations. :)

Have a fantastic Monday.