Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Most Gullible Woman In The World

Last night we carried out a top secret operation and Natalie's ignorance as to what was going on was not only a surprise but very aMUSEing to me. Over the last few years Natalie has gone with me to see Static-X, Rammstein, In Flames, and Opeth. My wife is not a metal head like I am but she insist on going along with me. So a few months ago I started looking for tickets to Muse for her. Nothing was available at the time so I thought I'd just check in every once in a while.


So after returning to Arizona from Thanksgiving break I was working at home one Sunday and Natalie was listening to Muse. I decided to look again and found out they were in Arizona that weekend. Of course Natalie was flying out to Orlando the day before so that wasn't going to work. So I e-mailed my sister Cassandra and asked her if she wants to watch my kids for a night and in return she can spend an extra week over Christmas break with her BFF. Well watching my kids turned into me invited her to come along as well. I told her this was top secret so the words Muse and concert will not be used. Instead all references to Muse or the concert will be hockey game. So I talked to my boss, got the approval to work the week from home, and booked tickets. The original concert was for Friday night but they sold out so they made a second show for Saturday. By the time we booked that Monday afternoon we got some of the last tickets.


So that night when I got home I told Natalie we are going to go to California a week early because my sister wants us to go to a hockey game with them. She asked what game I told her I don't know hockey. No further questions. Last week I got an e-mail saying that I got a free Muse hard copy and digital copy with my concert tickets. I told Natalie I got an e-mail for a free cd and asked her if she wants it or if she wants me to give it to my sister. Again, still hadn't raised any suspensions. So this last Friday we made our drive out to California.


Yesterday my brother in law comes in the room and is wearing a Muse shirt. Natalie starts talking about how much she would love to see them in concert. So then last night we leave the kids with my niece and take off for LA. As we were getting ready Natalie is trying to dress up all fancy in a nice shirt I bought her for her birthday. I told her to take off what she is wearing and throw on some jeans and a t-shirt. She kept on insisting on her shirt and I told her don't bother. She got annoyed and eventually changed her shirt. So our first stop was In N Out for a quick dinner since traffic sucked. While we are waiting to order I tell everyone how a guy we grew up with went to a Muse concert last week in Oakland and returned to a smashed window on his car, nothing missing, but an In N Out bag on the seat. My sister gets this weird look like I'm going to blow the surprise. Yeah right. So then we get into a stupid little argument about a candy wrapper in the car, Natalie tried talking tough and I decided to mess with her. I told her to stop talking trash because I'll have her shirt off before we even get home. I decided to take bets on who thought I was right and no one would take that bet because they knew what was in the trunk.
We continue our journey to LA and Natalie puts on some Muse and Jeff and Cassandra are talking about how much they love Muse and want to see them live. I actually tried to change the conversation because Natalie knew they were in California and I thought maybe, just maybe, she might actually catch on. The whole time I'm hoping she doesn't Google Staples Center because it will tell you on the results page what is going on that day.


So we get to Staples Center and park and I told everyone to hold on because I need to get something. I go to the trunk and get a small wrapped up gift. I give it to Natalie and told her "I told you I'd get your shirt off before we get home". She starts to open it but Cassandra wants her to wait so she can record it with her phone which Natalie didn't think was odd at all. So she opens it and it's a Muse shirt. Now at first you would think she knew what was going on by now. She screams, says she loves me and it's awesome, and changes her shirt. I looked at her and thought she's way too excited over a shirt but I really don't think she gets it. So I opened the door and said "Lets go watch some hockey". My sister then opens the door and whispers "I don't think she gets it". Uh duh. So I decided we should see how long this plays out. Can we make it to our seats before she figures it out?


As my sister is getting out of the car she reminds me to get the In N Out garbage out of the car so we don't return to smashed in windows and nothing on the seat but an In N Out bag. Still no suspicion. I think we actually could have made it to the door but then Cassandra takes off her sweater and now everyone but me is in a Muse t-shirt. Finally Natalie is looking at us with a weird face and says "What's going on guys". Then it finally registers and there is a bunch of screaming. I think we definitely could have pushed this one a lot more.


So coming from a guy who loves metal concerts of all sorts I would have to say even though this wasn't metal it was a pretty damn good concert, definitely on my top 5. I've seen all kinds of bands over the years. Some of them are bands I like before the concert and lose respect for them after seeing them live (Sevendust and Dope). Others are bands I already liked and liked even more afterwards or some I have never heard of until the concert but they become my favorite bands afterwards (SoIL and Opeth). I don't know what this band is classified as, some type of mainstream rock, but they performed well. Muse has only two guitarist and the singer was on rhythm guitar and piano. He's a good vocalist with a crazy big range. Everything was balanced out well, the light show was good, they had drones flying around, and it's actually the first concert I left without hearing loss and ringing in my ears.


Thanks to Cassandra and Jeff for coming along and giving Natalie a good night and of course my niece and my dad for watching the crazy kids. Cassandra, you're a square. 34 and first concert. Square......



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Retreat

Last week Natalie went to Miami for the weekend. She took Zach with her and left me with Adri. The week before was the same situation only with the tiny terror. I have to say it's a lot easier being left with a five year old for a weekend than a toddler.


So Thursday morning I made Adri the breakfast of champions, dropped her off at school, then headed over to Gavilan Peak. I have been wanting to take on that peak for a long time but have been busy with coyote hunting. So for 45 minutes I drove around looking for a parking spot. I was on the north side of the peak and driving down half paved roads in my little Civic. Eventually I got to a road street that was really steep and went down and where the pavement ended it was really rough. So I tried to go back up in reverse. I couldn't see anything in my rear view mirror because the road was so steep and I ended up driving off the side a little a couple times and had to go back down a bit then back up. By the time I got to where I could turn my car around I had burned my clutch pretty good. So I decided no more driving on bad roads in the Civic and I headed over to the west side of the peak where I parked in front of a sportsbar. 


After having such an awesome time just trying to find somewhere to park I should have got the message that things were not going to go right today. I didn't. Instead I took off to tackle the peak from the west side. As I got off the street and into the open desert I could see that there wasn't a trail. I had read that there isn't a trail but people manage to scramble their way to the top. Well I obviously didn't pick the route way to tackle this peak. I kept getting myself in situations that were worse and worse. Going up is the easy part too so I never realized how bad my situation was until it was time to make a descend. On top of this I was carrying a tripod for the camera, because what is the point of climbing a mountain if you can't get a picture of yourself at the top, and it was making it harder to climb over the rocks. So eventually I got pretty high up and decided it was time to retreat. My daughter needed to be picked up from school and it wasn't going to happen if I died on the mountain. I should have listened to the crazy voices in my head the first ten times when I thought this isn't a good idea but I didn't. 


So when I finally decided to come down the mountain I couldn't remember how I came up. I had to climb down a couple 15 foot rocks with a steep hill full of loose rocks. On top of that the rocks I was climbing down would often crumble. Normally I got out in the desert prepared but today was not one of those days. No rope, no first aid kit, just a camera, knife, and water. I got down the mountain but I got quite a few scratches and splinters in the process. Both my legs were scratched up bad and bleeding and I think I can in contact with some of the many things I am allergic to out there because I had some nice welts. My arms were both cutup and I had something stuck in one finger that I finally got removed yesterday. I'm definitely going to needed to find way up this mountain before trying again. This is my first retreat down a mountain without conquering it. 

Before sunrise at Badger Springs, about a month ago.
Breakfast of champions. This is why girls have dads. 
From the north side of Gavilan Peak.




This is before it got bad.
One of the rock walls I had to climb.


About 30-40 feet below the highest spot I reached.
I made it to the spot where the rock is in the middle of this valley.
Coming down here I was trying to hold onto those palo verdes. The climb is bigger than it looks. Once I got below the palo verdes I had to hang onto the rock. The rock I was holding onto with my right hand began to break loose, about a 30-50 pound piece of rock breaking free, so I had to redistribute my weight.




After my adventure down the mountain I took Adri to see the Peanuts Movie. It was better than I was expecting. 
Friday morning I took Adri to the library to make gingerbread men before taking her down to Mesa to work with me for the afternoon. 
Saturday I was looking for something to do with Adri but I was tired and not feeling so good. So I ended up just taking her down to Deer Valley for some frozen yogurt before spending half my day sleeping on the couch.
Natalie returned from Miami with a six pack of Presidente. I'm not huge on beer, I'm actually a beer snob. I like Stella Artios, Sapporo some of the seasonal stuff, and the stuff at small breweries. Everyone in Miami talks about Presidente though so I told her to pick up some. It's a Pilsner, like Stella, so I figured maybe Dominicans aren't just making things up, maybe it is actually good. Well after having three of them I no longer know if I like Stella or Presidente more. Presidente is nice and smooth and goes great with cashews or salty chicken. Only problem is can't find it in the states outside of Miami.

Monday, December 7, 2015

I have a crazy clone, and stuff

It's December now, the craziest time of the year. A couple weeks ago we went out to California for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving morning I decided to go behind my dad's house and see if I could find coyotes. Yes, lately I'm obsessed with trying to get a coyote in what spare time I have. I found scat everywhere. When I say everywhere really mean it. But three hours of calling away and I couldn't find a single coyote. So after dinner I went out back with my nephew and we called some coyotes in about 100 yards from the house. So we got bored and decided to go for a hike and see if we could call them in. Sure enough within two minutes of calling I nearly had a coyote on my lap. Probably no more than 20 yards away. I got him to pass us twice. Both times my nephew finally got the light on after it passed us. The next day we went out and called a whole pack in probably about 200 yards away. It's kinda creepy out there at night because we would turn on the light not knowing what's out there and we would see their eyes glowing green in the distance. So I'm trying to take what I've learned from calling them in California and applying it to my Arizona hunts. After the holidays I'm probably going to take a couple full days to get me a coyote. 

Before leaving California we had a family afternoon and went skating. I really like skating, Natalie and I used to go almost every week in Hollywood, but it's really challenging with a nearly two year old that wants to be everywhere he shouldn't be. And that is where the title of this post comes into play.

Zach is a funny kid. He's like a little Dr Jekell and Mr Hyde. He's funny, smart, and a very lovable lil guy, but then out of nowhere this kid can have the worst tantrums. I think he's frustrated a lot, which is his own doing. He doesn't want to talk so it's hard for us to know what he wants and then the tantrums start. At least lately he has been trying to grab me by the hand more and take me to what he wants but still a lot of the times I stand there in the kitchen or by the door wondering what it is he is looking for. 

So this week Natalie went out to Florida for a couple days with Adri. Guess who got to stay with me? Saturday morning at 3am I was awakened by the lil terror who decided to throw a 2 hour tantrum. At five he finally went back to sleep until 7. So I tried to play with Zach but he's not much into watching tv or playing with toys. He gets bored really quick and wants to keep grabbing me by the hand and taking me all over the house for who knows what. However he loves to copy me when I'm doing everyday things. Last week I was getting ready for my hunt and he was walking around blowing on my duck call. The minute he saw me come in the room with my rifle he ran to his room and returned with the duck call in one hand and his toy M16 in the other. Saturday I started cleaning the house and everything I did he wanted to copy. I wash the counters, he gets a paper towel and wipes the stove. I bring out the vacuum, he runs to his room and grabs his toy vacuum. I sweep the floor, he finds another broom and follows along. Really I'd say I hope he still wants to clean the house in ten years but I think everyone knows that's not gonna happen. But as of right now he's happier cleaning up than he is playing with his toys.

So Saturday I first took him to a couple outdoor stores. As I'm trying to look at camo clothes he is kicking and fighting me to be let down. He wanted to play hide and seek and he was making shopping a really fun time. So we finally leave and we go to Costco. At first he's ok in the cart but then he wants to be held. Well after ten minutes of trying to hold him and push a cart I gave up and put him in the cart. He didn't want any part of that and tried to fight me to get out. I kept putting his legs back down and eventually he had a full blown meltdown. I'm talking head butting me, pushing on my throat, hitting me, snot running down his face, a full blown tantrum. It was so bad I had to try to hold him in line face down away from my face so I don't get hit. Ladies are walking by making comments that the moms all feel my pain. It was a pretty epic tantrum. So I get him to the car thinking he'll get right in his seat. Wrong. He refused to sit down and put his body straight. I had to fight him to get in his seat. About 10 minutes into the drive he finally just fell asleep. I get him home and put him in his crib and over an hour later he's still whimpering in his sleep.

So that evening I take him to the park. We ride the train, play with his ball for a whole two minutes, then he just wants to run away. Of course as we are standing their in an opening field some dumb ass peeled out of the parking lot with smoking tires. Their truck started spinning and turned towards us. We were probably a good 80 yards away but I went running for Zach. Eventually these clowns got control of their truck, a bunch of people yell eff you at them, and they drove away. But after this I had to double down on staying on top of this kid. So all Zach wanted to do was throw rocks, dirt, and everything he can in the lake. The first couple times was ok but then when trying to put a stop to it another epic tantrum. I'm at the point where I just don't feel like dealing with it anymore so I just picked him up and took him home. 

Yesterday we finished up our cleaning campaign and then I took him to the train park. He did good for the most part. This kid loves taking car rides, riding in his stroller, and loves riding on the little straddle car trains. That is until he is tired. He finally broke down a couple minutes before the train got back to the station. Of course he falls asleep in the car seat but the minute I get him in the house he wakes up. So back to the car to do some shopping. Last night I took him for a walk and he fell asleep right in his stroller. Gave me enough time to just leave him there and mop the floors when I got home. 

This morning I was working from home while waiting for Natalie to get back and Zach started going through my backpack. He found a picture of his sister and came running over to me then gave her a kiss. Sweet lil kid but make no mistake, he's also a little terror. He also likes to try to cuddle up with me when I'm sleeping. Really cute until his foot is in my eye.

At my dad's house. I don't remember what happened before he fell asleep but I'm guessing it was craziness of epic proportions. 

Adri at the skating rink. She lasted about one whole lap around the rink with my dad holding one hand and me holding the other. 
I took Zachy Zach shopping for new pajamas and a jacket this weekend. Here's his new minion pajamas.
 He might not talk yet but I think I got the message. I didn't put him in there.
 Me and my crazy little clone at the train park.






This morning I had to start work at 6. Zachy Zach had me up at 4:30. So I came up with a plan. I made him some raspberry and whipped cream waffles with the intention of putting him in a food coma for a while. It kept him somewhat calm for 2 hours. Then the crazy came back out.

Magic Mountain

Last week Natalie and I had our 7 year anniversary. This year I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I really wanted to go to Catalina and do some hiking or something but leaving the kids isn't that easy, well leaving Zach isn't easy. So eventually I decided we should just do Magic Mountain instead. We could drop the kids off with my sister, let them drive her up a wall for a little more than 24 hours, and have some fun. I used to go to Magic Mountain all the time when I was younger and the only time Natalie and I went was October 2007. I was suffering from altitude sickness from the day before and we ended up leaving early so another trip was long overdue. So last week I worked a crazy long weekend so I could have an extended 5 day Thanksgiving weekend without burning up any PTO.

Our first stop in Santa Clarita was BevMo. I've been on a diet lately and it had been a while since I've had a rum n coke and I wanted to see if they had anything good we can't get in Arizona. I didn't find any of the good Dominican rums I was looking for but I did find this 12 year aged Haitian rum and it was delicious. It wasn't til I got to the hotel that I realized who coke suggest I share my coke with. The rum was so good I decided to start my morning off like a pirate the next morning.

That night we decided to walk to dinner. El Torito is a five minute walk from there and I thought I was going to have a drink. When we got there I realized everything is full of tequila and I hate tequila. So it was water for me. At the end of dinner a woman walked in with a full sized poodle. Natalie was busting up laughing. I have one picture where you can see half her face blue and the vein popping out. She would kill me if I shared that one so here's another one instead. After dinner we got back to the hotel and fell asleep by 8. I brought my board shorts and was planning on hitting the jacuzzi but having two crazies kids has made us like senior citizens. No kids for the night and out by 8.
The day started off pretty warm so I left the sweater in the car. We got there a good half hour or more early thinking we would be first in line. Haha, yeah right. When the gates opened we made a dash for X2. After waiting 20 minutes we were told the ride would open up later in the day because it was stuck. So we ran over to Tatsu next and found that one was closed too. So next we were off to Riddler's Revenge. We walked right onto the ride and there was no line so we got to ride a second time next to some fellow metal heads. I have to say, after the second ride I was feeling a little sick and needed a break to to let my breakfast make it's way back down into my stomach.

After Riddler's Revenge I decided to ride this one, the Green Lantern. It really doesn't look that bad, and it's not that fast, but damn it's a mean coaster. The seats are like on X2, on the side of the car, and they rotate so they spin you all around. The worst part of the roller coaster was the over the shoulder restraints that felt like they were going to pop right on open. After this Natalie was a little scared to ride on everything.

So after Green Lantern we headed over to Batman. A classic ride. And after that I decided to get Natalie on Lex Luther's Drop Of Doom. I have to say this ride is over rated. It's like Supreme Scream at Knott's only 100+ feet higher and a lot faster, 80+ miles per hr vs 55mph. However once they lift you up they drop you once and that is it. With Supreme Scream they drop you and you bounce halfway back up and it's a lot harder on the stomach. I have to say my expectations for this ride were too high. I almost thought Natalie wasn't going to ride. She was putting up a fight getting on this one. She had her eyes closed most of the time and was screaming her lungs out. I don't understand the whole eyes closed thing. The best part of the ride was enjoying the view. One thing I like about Magic Mountain is all the trees and the fall colors and the view from 300+ feet up was pretty awesome. This ride was built on the side of Superman. So the track that curves is Superman and you can see the people going up Lex Luther's Drop Of Doom just below where it turns red.

After this we did Scream. I forgot that I had ridden this last time we were there. I thought it was something new I hadn't tried. However when I got off the ride with a sore neck and nausea I remembered that we had been on it before. We wanted to try the new Twisted Colossus but the line was so long it was stupid. So we ate lunch and headed over to Goliath where we were in line behind the most annoying kids for an hour. It started getting cold in the line for Goliath and the ride stirred up my lunch pretty good so we took a break afterwards and I ran to the car to get our sweaters. 


We I returned we ran over to X2. Natalie was talking a lot of crap about how if she gets sick she is done for the day. I kept trying to remind her that she rode it last time but she didn't remember. For those who have never been to Magic Mountain X2 is the most insane roller coaster on the planet. It's the world's first 4D roller coaster. The seats are on the side of the car and they spin at certain parts on the track. So going up we were laying on our backs looking at the sky. They drop us from that big drop in the background of the picture and half way down the drop the seat flips. The seats keep flipping so you never know where you are. The track could be above you one minute and you're going one way and the next it's below you and you're going the other direction. One part I really like is when they flip the seats during a corkscrew and it looks like you're moving sideways. The ride is all kinds of crazy. Anyways Natalie rode the entire ride with her eyes closed but somehow she said she loved it and wanted to ride again. We had just enough time though to get over to Tatsu before they close. The best thing about X2 is that even though it's really intense it's the smoothest roller coaster you'll find and I didn't get any nausea.

Here is a video of X2. If you skip the first 1:55 in the video you see right where the ride actually starts.

Tatsu was the most ridiculous line of the day. Well over an hour. When we got to the loading station there were three girls in front of us and two people in front of them. The three all wanted to ride together so they let us have cuts. Well the kids in front of them had planned some shady crap with their friends to ride twice. So when the coaster came back for loading their friends didn't want to get off the ride and thought we were just going to stay quite. The girls that had given us cuts were all pissed off and yelling and cussing and I just wanted to go home and didn't feel like dealing with these kids. So I got the ride operator and told her to kick those kids off. They sat there playing stupid. She took off to get help and those kids got scared and took off. So the funny part about this is that when the ride was done and we were just outside the station we got stuck. Tatsu is a ride that the seat rotates once you get on it and it stays face down the entire ride, like you're flying through the forest. So here we are stuck face down, in the cold, outside the station. Natalie was about to have a panic attack and I'm just sitting there laughing. I think we were stuck about 10-15 minutes before they finally got maintenance out there and got us back into the station. 

So that was our day. The only ride we didn't get to go on was Full Throttle which currently has the biggest loop in the world and the car rides on both the inside and the outside of the loop. The loop didn't look that impressive from up close but once you get a half a mile away and compare it to the other rides it looks massive. I guess there's always next time for that ride right? Maybe? We'll see if Natalie ever wants to go back. I'm looking forward to the day when the kids are big enough to go to Magic Mountain. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

West Fork Sedona

It's been a while since we had a good family hike. So I decided a couple weeks ago it was time to take a hike up in Sedona. I found a trail we hadn't been on before and allegedly they get good fall colors so we took off next week for West Fork. 

When we got there the color was pretty much gone. A lot of yellows but the reds were gone. I did see one big read leafed tree and a couple small ones but apparently this year they skipped fall and went right into winter. It was very cold when we got there and there was actually still snow on the ground. We were not expecting that and it was a nice surprise. We hike for a couple hours around the West Fork trail. We had to cross a couple times so we didn't get to do the full 6 miles to the end. It would have been about a dozen crossing and it's too much with the kids. When I say creek crossings I don't mean on a bridge. I'm talking carrying the kids while we walk over slippery wet rocks in the creek. Natalie didn't even want to do the first crossing but wasn't going to stop after just a half mile.

Getting ready to go to Sedona. Here is Zach sporting his wolf hat.





Ok so there was one bridge crossing. After this though it was all walking across rocks.

The remains of an old lodge from the mid 1800's. According to the sign there they had grizzly bears in this area at that time.
















Adri wanted to eat the snow. I wouldn't let her since it's not fresh powder so instead she kept throwing it at my butt. It was all fun and games until she hit Zach.