blk: (Default)
Continuing with our holiday tradition, last month just after xmas, Xuth and I went to Parker Dam State Park for a few days to cabin and hike and read books. We chose this park specifically because the cabins have fireplaces (and also electricity and heat) and we like fire.

Day 1 (Mon, Dec 26)
The drive up was fairly uneventful, albeit damp. After unloading the car we browsed the nearby woods for some wood for the fireplace, which Xuth sawed up and split and I stacked near the heater to dry a little. It's dark early there, which leaves a lot of evening down time for dinner, fire, tea, and reading books.

Day 2 (Tue, Dec 27)
It was a lovely, sunshiney, cold day. We managed to break past hiking trends and actually got out of the cabin on the early side for us, a little after 10am. We traveled around several local trails, up to Tyler Road at the north end of the park which was completely iced over, and came in the north entrance of the park to pass the CCC cabin and tornado display, which gave an interesting summary and a few pictures of the great tornado outbreak of May 31, 1985. One of the F4 tornadoes swept a swath 1-2 miles wide for almost 70 miles through Moshannon State Forest, including through Parker Dam State Park, destroying large swaths of forest. A lot of our hiking took us through that area, where we could see what had grown up naturally in the last 30 years.

We finished our day with a hike up to a promised Scenic Overlook point, which, was a nice 300 ft climb in about 1/2 mile. Sure enough, there was a fairly scenic view of Parker Lake at the top. Coming back to the cabin was a nice round 10 miles, where I lay down and dozed for a much-needed nap before dinner.

Day 3 (Wed, Dec 28)
Wed seemed to be about similar temps as Tue, but I decided to put on an extra layer because it also looked to be overcast. This ended up being mostly but not quite enough, as I was almost comfortable, but still slightly on the chilly side for much of the day. We started off with a quick tour around Parker Lake, then over to the east side of the park where we took the first and last bit of the Quehanna Trail, with local trail between the points.

This was (as we found out later) a newer trail, and less well-maintained, with blazings often not within sight distance (and a very un-obvious, leaf-covered trail). About halfway between landmarks we managed to lose the blue blazings and ended up wandering around lost in the forest for a while. That sounds much more exciting than it was - we both had GPS devices, knew the approximate direction and distance we needed to walk in to find another landmark trail, and as a last resort could always have retraced our steps back the way we came. Eventually we re-found the route and continued.

Being slightly chilly for several hours is incredibly exhausting, so even though it only ended up being a ~8 mile day, we decided to call it quits after we got back to the main part of the park, and spent the rest of the day with naps and books.

Day 4 (Thu, Dec 29)

This was check-out day, but also snow! Not a lot, but enough to change the landscape in fun ways. We meandered around the lake then headed to the park office to check out and also because that was when the attendant had told us there would be a ranger available to let us check out the CCC musuem (PDF). This was the best collected information, pictures, flotsam, etc about CCC I've seen yet and it was all pretty interesting. It was also the first information I'd read about black people in the CCC (PDF), which stood out to me. Camps were kept segregated, and only 10% of the camps were black, despite having the community represent over 25% of the applicants in need.

Then it was home time, catching on all the previous few days of events of the world and coming back to regular life.

Link to full album of pics, in case you didn't click on the above pics.
blk: (Default)
This year at Arisia I prioritized dancing, costuming, and seeing the guest of honor, to great success.

Dancing

Last year at Arisia I re-realized that dancing is awesome, so I decided to try to do a lot of that this year, even bringing along pharmaceutical assistance (in the form of dimenhydrinate) to help with the less good side effects that I mostly blame for why I've kept away from it for long. I made it to most of the swing dance, the fusion dance lesson, all three late night dances, and even did one contra song. I missed the waltz (sad!) because it overlapped a GOH panel, and most of the contra because spinning1 messes up my head.

Mostly it was all excellent2 and re-reminded me that dancing is hella fun and I want to do more of it. My follow skills for partner dances felt super rusty and sloppy, but I think there was some improvement just over the course of the weekend, and I'm positive with actual lessons I could do a whole lot more pretty quickly. The club dancing was good at energy burn and flow, and there's something nice about being in a roomful of other geeks that makes me a little less self-conscious about all the possible ways I can look stupid whilst flailing around the dance floor. Also having a hotel room available just a few floors away that I could floomp into when I started fading.

So now I'm looking around locally for dancing I can make time for. Primarily partner dancing, although getting out to a club every now and again would be fun too. I could do CMUBDC, but I wonder if I'll feel old there. Swing city looks to be still operating, and is convenient. I see a lot of conflicting information about various regular ballroom classes/dances, so that will take some more research. [profile] marmal8, I may be stalking you for events for a bit.

1 Yes, I know that it's possible to contra without swinging super fast, but it's really not possible to contra without swinging at all, because every dance has like 2 or 3 of them, plus other spins, AND the dances are usually around ~10 minutes long instead of 3-4 mins for regular partner dances AND contra really isn't much my style anyways. I really like having to be precise and exact and well-matched with a partner.

2 Except for a brief moment where I had a teeny little private meltdown in the bathroom from an internal struggle with really wanting to participate in the last contra of the night/weekend vs needing to sit out because head was a little spinny. But that passed and I went on to dance other things.



Costuming

Cosplay is fun! I found out about Carrie Fisher's death on the way home from cabining with [profile] xuth, and a couple days later decided that I wanted to be her once again. Not the Princess Leia that I was last year, but the older, more mature, General Leia. The one who had lived through a rebellious teen, a rocky marriage, and had thrown herself back into her work, fighting for good. Best Leia.

Unfortunately, this left me less than two weeks to get my costume together. And I knew that there would be guaranteed several other Leias at the con because of current events, so mine had to be Right. I managed to find beige clothing that worked well, but no vests I was happy with, when Xuth suggested I make my own. A simple vest shouldn't be that hard, right? Of course not, and it shouldn't take long, assured Xuth, who is very capable and comfortable with power tools and knows his way around the sewing machine much better than I do. Well, after a great deal of trial and error sewing and ripping and sewing and ripping and maybe a tantrum or two, I finally managed to create a decent looking dark purple vest, with liner and pockets and a belt from plastic, aluminum tape and elastic, all about a day before leaving.



The costume turned out as something I was pretty happy with. I also figured out, after quite a few failed attempts, how to pile my hair on my head to effectively mimic her twists, at least from the front, which none of the other General Leias at the con (I saw at least three) had done. At one point, Xuth commented on how much hairstyle figures into my cosplay, and I was like, duh, have you met met?

I got a lot of compliments and had fun schmoozing with the various other Leias who were also there and the rest of the people who made it to the Star Wars photoshoot. I wore this one Friday and Saturday, but noticed that although there were General Leias and New Hope Leias and Endor Leias, there were no Hoth Leias, so I changed into that (costume from previous year) for Sunday.



My final costume was a simple Star Trek Uhura outfit, one copied from Into Darkness (new old) and thrown together for Halloween. Initially I'd acquired a cheap package costume, then found a much better quality real outfit on eBay. Then there were the boots. I thought that after running for years, outgrowing pants and socks, and having trouble fitting into anything "skinny" anymore, that my calves could finally qualify as being "normal-sized" calves. But noooooo, apparently 15" is still so wide they swim. I found a slightly smaller calved boot from Keen that works reasonable well, but argh. I guess I still have stupid skilly legs.

The fun of cosplay has motivated me to start learning sewing for real, and I took my first ever sewing class just before the con. We sewed a cute little pillowcase, which was fairly straightforward, but OMG, it turned out perfectly without any tears! Or any tearing out stiches over and over! Which further indicates that heeeey maybe I should try to learn these skills incrementally instead of in gigantic crash sessions. I'm looking forward to more lessons.


GOHing

I finally figured out the last couple years that Arisia's taste in Writer GOHs is pretty good, and I should pay attention to them. 2015 had N.K. Jemisin, who I didn't sadly attend panels of but ended up loving her books later that year. 2016 had Scalzi, and while I don't love his books quite as thoroughly, I do like his writing a lot and enjoyed the panels he was on. And 2017 was [profile] ursulav who I haven't read much of yet, but I know she has a really lovely way with words.3 Her sessions were quite enjoyable. The panel which was basically "ursulav answers audience questions" was funny, and prompted me to go look up gems such as Hellhound Rescue, The Hidden Almanac, and her Alarming New Skill. So now I am motivated to read much more of her work, and possibly gift a certain set of niblings with some of her children's work.

3 If you haven't read anything by Ursula Vernon, I recommend a short fiction: Jackalope Wives to get a taste for her style of writing. Then consider that a lot of her work is in the form of graphic novels and retold fairy tales.

The only really negative part of the weekend is somewhere about 6 hours out of Boston I realized I hadn't packed up the two copies of the Halcyon Fairy Book that I'd purchased and gotten autographed while standing around trying not to fangirl too hard at the author, and Xuth didn't remember packing them either, and when he called the hotel, they didn't report having found them. I'm reeeeeeeally bummed about that. They were last seen in the hotel room on the desk, so I guess I just keep hoping that we get a call back soon. :(


Other

The other big interesting thing about this year's con is that for the first time, I brought along the jboys. Justin was on winter break from RIT and David decided he wanted to tag along as well. So we put them up in The Boy's hotel room a few blocks away, and lo and behold, they managed to survive the weekend. I'm not sure either of them spent more than an hour outside the video game room, but hey, it's a thing, and they had fun.

I also got a chance to visit with some lovely local people, many of whom I basically see once a year around this time, although not nearly as many or with as much quality time as I wish I could have. I think that specific socializing needs to be more formally planned next year.

For the drive back, we went home by way of Rochester, because as it turns out, Boston to Rochester to Pittsburgh is only about 100 miles more than Boston to Pittsburgh is, and we could drop off Justin at his dorm. The final three of us finally got home Tuesday.

Whew. Excellent weekend. Let's do it again next year.
blk: (avatar)
This past weekend xuth and I drove out to Philly for [livejournal.com profile] soong's wedding. This is great, except that the only road that goes from Pittsburgh to Philly and takes less than 5 hours is also one of the most expensive long toll roads in the nation, costing a whopping $32.90 in cash to travel this subsection one way. There's a significant (~30%) savings using E-ZPass, but we hadn't gotten around to getting a transponder yet because a) we don't travel on toll roads very regularly and b) we intended to wait and get it in MA because it's cheaper ($0/yr instead of $3/yr in PA). This trip was going to be expensive enough that I looked into getting one right beforehand, but didn't plan ahead enough, so that didn't work out, and we just resigned to paying lots of money.

We stopped at a service plaza a few exits in for lunch, and I saw a sign that said they sold E-ZPass there. Well, that would be convenient. So I went and inquired. Turns out although they activate the transponder at the time of purchase (and trade it for your current toll slip), it doesn't actually charge until the next time you enter a toll booth. Which means that if you acquire the transponder in the middle of a toll trip, that trip is free. Even with the yearly fee + "convenience fee", that definitely made it worthwhile!

The wedding itself was lovely and wonderful. The setting was beautiful; the people were pleasant and colorful; the food and drink was delicious; the weather mostly cooperated; the string band which played quiet background classical music rickrolled us during the cocktail hour; and overall it was a great party. The only downside is that while I wore fairly comfy shoes, they were not dancing shoes, and by the end of the evening of walking and dancing, I had worn fairly painful blisters on the balls of my feet. Oops. Fortunately a night of rest made them walkable again. I took just a few pictures and posted the good ones to the groom's FB wall (who made one his profile pic, yay!). I also braided a few people (surprise), got to see a few of my much-missed Boston-ish friends, convinced myself to get an undercut, and in general had a nice relaxing day.

The ride back was uneventful but annoying. I think 3.5 hours of driving is just about my limit of what I can do comfortably, so by 4.5 hours I'm antsy, tired, and impatient.
blk: (polychrome)
It turns out this was my 11th Arisia. Wow, time flies. I've enjoyed the costuming thing so much in the past that I did two this year.

"Now THAT's a chemical reaction!" (Honey Lemon - Big Hero 6)


Honey Lemon vs me
My first costume started off as a pair of cheap plastic, pink sunglasses that [livejournal.com profile] xuth found by the side of the road last summer. They sat around the house for a few weeks, and then I had the utterly brilliant idea to pop out the lenses and use them as cycling-friendly eyepatches for a pirate bike ride. Then we saw Big Hero 6, and I decided to use the frames as a basis for Honey Lemon, because hey, I've got the glasses and the hair, that's like, 90% of the costume, right? Everything else was acquired by some careful eBay hunting, including some completely ridiculous shoes that were pretty much perfect for the costume although somewhat less than perfect for actual walking. Let's just say I didn't go very far or very fast, although I am getting surprisingly good at walking in them. I went for the lab coat instead of a mustard yellow sweater because man, it's hard to find a good looking mustard yellow sweater, particularly one that I'm willing to wear. Lab coats are much more useful.

I spent some time both days walking around and got lots of recognition from anybody who had seen the movie and lots of blank stares from everybody who hadn't. But the best part was on Saturday I found Tadashi! We jumped up and down enthusiastically together and he asked me in character about my research grant and it was awesome. Oh, and this random bad guy who also happened to be walking by. *grin* Sadly I don't have a great picture of the three of us. But it was a lot of fun.

"I am not a committee" (Princess Leia - Star Wars V)


Leia on Hoth vs me
My next costume ended up being kind of last minute. After seeing the new Star Wars, of course I wanted to do something from there, but I learned from past events that there would be a billion other Reys (and there were), so instead I went to the past. Again I chose the costume based on the hairstyle I could do most easily, then got the clothing from a thrift store and eBay. My sole bit of craftiness went into making the rank badge, from wood shapes that Xuth cut for me. I looked around a lot for the right boots, but didn't find anything close enough, so I just went ahead with my existing pair of snow boots.


Leia from IV, V, and VII
While walking around, I ran into three other Leias, and of course got pictures with them. Then Sunday evening was a rockin' Star Wars themed room party with music and tasty drinks and tons of people, and I got a ton of compliments before the tons of people made the party way too hot for even a thin costume fake snowsuit and I went and changed into less clothing. But I did get a picture with a Han and a Kylo Ren to complete the family shot (if a little temporally confused).


Got the family together

The rest of the con

The rest of my con involved seeing lots of people, dancing, getting tossed around, going to a few actual con events, flirting heavily, trying to find things I wanted to spend money on (and failing), getting costume ideas for next year, and having a lot of fun. Amusingly, I didn't see ANY supergirls this year. I guess I should have brought that costume back with me. I got enough sleep and have successfully avoided getting sick. I think next year I am going to prioritize the evening and late night dances because they were really a ton of fun and I want to be awake for them.

Now back to real life.
blk: (bike)
The other day I had a car dropoff in the morning and planned to go directly into work. When I've done this in the past, I often put my bike in the car, then ride it from where I drop the car off. This time, the dropoff was a little closer to work, and I didn't feel like dealing with the bike, so I decided to walk it.

Less than a mile of walking later, I decided I wanted to be on a bike instead. It was muggy and my walking muscles were all out of practice. Ugh! Then a bike share bike passed me, and I realized there was a way I could bike back in the afternoon, after all! And in addition, then I could compare my DC bikeshare experience to my Pgh bikeshare experience.

dc bikeshare )

pgh bikeshare )

Overall I liked it. I'm still pretty sure I'm not the target market for these, since I do have my own bike and would take that most places where I'm going to ride. But in the event that I find myself in a part of the city that has bikes, without my bike, and I want to get a few miles down the road, I'd take it again.
blk: (icicles)
So there was this con a couple weeks ago. In past years I've been to this con as a Spicy Braider (or as reg staff), but this year that wasn't to be. Since I suddenly had a bunch of free time and energy, I decided to try A Project.

The Costume )

The Con )
blk: (icicles)
Now that the latest cold snap has passed, it seems like a good time to revisit [livejournal.com profile] xuth's and my recent vacation getaway. This year we escaped to Black Moshannon State Park in the middle of PA. We chose this spot because there looked to be a fair number of hiking trails accessible without needing to drive anywhere, and also because they had a "modern" (heated) cabin still available for cheap.


Black Moshannon bog

We and a friend headed out Monday afternoon through fairly uneventful traffic and arrived in good time shortly before sunset. After some minor complications (needing to acquire some emergency kitchen gear), we settled in, had dinner, and played a game. It was cold at that point but no snow yet. Tuesday morning it started snowing enough to settle a layer of white on the ground, so it finally felt appropriately wintery, and we could actually snow hike. I took us on several loops around the main campsite that first day, totaling approximately 7.5 miles, with minor elevation changes and off and on snow. The afternoon gave us a brief clear sky to see the bog, although all the information signs on the boardwalk were snowed over. We got back before dark, thoroughly exhausted (at least I was). I got in my yearly game of Iron Dragon (which I was doing great on until events started kicking my butt and I ended up losing horribly) over dinner and dessert and lots of tea and gingerbread.


a quick very clothed group shot

Wednesday after breakfast we headed out to one more loop we hadn't gotten to the previous day. It was much colder that day. The only temperature reading we had at the cabin said 20F, but after being out in below 0F just a couple days ago, I'm inclined to say that the park temps were much lower than 20F. Fortunately there wasn't much wind, but we needed to stay moving and covered to be comfortable. There wasn't any new snow since the previous day, so we could see a lot of fresh tracks from various overnight visitors. We identified several different deer and rabbits. We also saw prints from what looked like a housecat and various other small skittery things. After just a couple miles, we decided to take the rest of the day to relax with books and napping and tea in a warm cabin.


Allegheny Front Trail goes UP

Thursday morning had brought more snow, the soft light kind that settles and turns everything a nice fluffy white. After a quick cleanup we closed up shop and drove over to the park office to try to find maps for the best way to briefly explore the Allegheny Front Trail, a 40 mile loop that went around the park. We opted to explore the "Front vista section," which went up and down and along the eastern ridge. Sure enough, less than a mile in, the trail turned very up, and involved clambering up snowy rocks for a while. The rest of the day was some variety of up or down, and was definitely very challenging terrain. After an hour and a half of walking we hadn't yet reached the next road, but decided we needed to turn back in order to get home before sunset. Another hour and a half brought us back to the road and the car, where I was very very happy to sit and not walk any more. Later studying of maps brought us to conclude that we had probably only traveled about 2 miles along the trail (so 4 round trip) in three hours. Sheesh. But I was exhausted enough by the end of 3 hours that I certainly wasn't up for more, so I guess that was it.

We came home to a quiet house and a grateful cat and several days of relaxing. Overall a good vacation.
blk: (spicy)
My much-neglected todo list tells me that I never did an Arisia writeup for this year. But beyond just showing off braid pics, these posts are good for me for future planning. I'll probably backdate this so I can find it in the future.

points of interest )
blk: (axial)
It's been quite the week! Enough that I want to post about it, at least. We've spent the last few years really enjoying getting rid of the kids for the xmas week, and going somewhere secluded to relax and be outside. This year was no different, except that family obligations poked their head in, so we went back to Ohio instead of elsewhere.

sunday through thursday, in ohio )


adding some color

Friday I tackled the ice and snow on our sidewalks, as Pittsburgh had decided to allow winter in while we were gone. The rest of the weekend has been mostly doing a lot of lazing about, cooking various things, shoveling show, going to a couple parties, and attempting to get over these coughs. Mine has settled into being the better part of laryngitis and some vague coughing after I did a bunch of talking/socializing on Friday afternoon, and sounds pretty awful, but I'm otherwise feeling fine, so I think it's just the last bit of recovery. I made some pretty ice decorations and took a long walk through Frick yesterday.

Tonight we're off to another low-key party, hopefully one where I don't have to talk too loudly. Going to ring in de new year all quiet und sottle-like. Yarrrr.
blk: (tree)
While everybody's attention is focused on this gigantic troublemaker of a storm on this coast, I am going to revisit a small camping vacation [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I took a couple weeks ago, Oct 13-14.

We had one of those rare weekends without the kids, and I wanted to go somewhere relaxing that didn't involve a whole lot of work (or money). After doing some looking to see what was available at the last minute (not much), I found a cabin available in Kooser State Park, about an hour east of Pittsburgh. The park itself was pretty tiny, but it is practically right next door to several other state parks, as well as Roaring Run Natural Area (pdf) and a stretch of the 70 mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

hiking details )

Overall it was a good weekend out, and perked up more of my interest in hunting for this year's winter vacation spot. In previous years we've gone to Germany Valley, WV and Hocking Hills, OH. Our ideal is a comfortable, relatively inexpensive place in the middle of nowhere, in easy driving distance from Pittsburgh, with indoor plumbing and heating and at least minimal food prep abilities, with nearby trails for hiking, and no kids around.

Another thing we've been hoping for is company. Would you be interested in spending a few days with us sometime between Dec 22-31, with snow hiking during the day, and quiet board games and tea in the evenings (or maybe a book and a wood stove)? We haven't decided on location or time yet, and can be flexible. The vast majority of our friends already have holiday plans with family or traveling, but in case you don't and are interested in joining, let us know!
blk: (bike)
Yesterday was a day to 1) celebrate the [livejournal.com profile] jboys finishing up all major schoolwork for the year and giving me much more free time back, 2) get in miles for the National Bike Challenge, and 3) make a super hot day more tolerable by creating our own breeze, which means going out biking! With a lot of help from [livejournal.com profile] xuth, my bike got reworked with better brakes, rack, light, and other bits, which I was eager to try out.

Normal family errands delayed me a lot, so we didn't actually get out until approaching evening, but we still had several hours of light to play with. We went down the newly paved Greenfield Ave (zooooooom!) to the Eliza Furnace Trail and across the river to REI to return a pair of gloves I'd been lazy about, then south on the trail until it dead-ends ungracefully before the Glenwood Bridge. We took an incredibly rocky railroad "path" across the last 1000 ft over to Baldwin Rd, then normal roads past Sandcastle (where we got whiffs of nice cool air from the water misting up to us) over to Homestead where we made the requisite ice cream stop (salty caramel for me, strawberry banana shake for X) and picked up the current start of the Steel Valley Trail.


crossing the rails

The last time we had tried this trail, the "trail" part petered out shortly after the Waterfront proper, leaving us with not much choice than to take Monongahela Blvd with all the zoomy cars down past Kennywood. Not so this time! Apparently, recent land negotiations have successfully connected all those unfinished bits, making it into a lovely 6-7 mile paved path all the way down to McKeesport. The trail mostly follows the train tracks, weaving over them several times on newly built pedestrian bridges where you can stop and get a great view of any approaching trains, or a few stretches where you race them for a few miles (we chased this one for a while, but I couldn't keep up 17+mph on a slight incline for more than a few minutes and he got away).

The path also runs behind Kennywood, although the path at that point is mostly shrouded by trees, which makes for a nicely slightly-cooler ride during the daylight and a whatever-you-do-don't-open-your-mouth ride during twilight. There is one break where you can see the Phantom's Revenge intertwined with the Thunderbolt.

South of that, we crossed the old converted Riverton Bridge, where I briefly pondered what teeny percentage of the weight limit two bicyclists posed to it ("These bridge supports could probably take just about anything you could throw at it." "Well, it might not like having a train thrown at it."), down past the mostly abandoned Union Railroad railyard and roundhouse, and into McKeesport.


and the barges they go silently

It was nearing sunset at that point, and we decided we really didn't need to keep going further south, so we stopped for a drink and a bite at the local Eat'n'Park (with two huuuuuge salads), then headed back. We left McKeesport after sunset, dodging several completely un-lit cyclists (mostly kids) on the darkening trail, and made it back to the Waterfront just as the last of daylight was fading.

Which left only the last two miles to go, across the High Level Bridge, where we got this lovely view of a barge slowly making its way down the river, regularly scanning around itself with its spotlight, and then up Brown's Hill Road, where I got this amusing stereotypical view (it's not very legible, but that's a Dunkin' Donuts). And now I can say that I've biked up Brown's Hill, and I can do it, although I don't really have any desire to do it again. Home just before 10pm, hot and sticky and sweaty and buggy. Thank goodness for showers.

Total mileage: just over 30 miles, in almost 5 hours out (about 2:45 of actual riding). My shoulders got more tanned, but not burned (thanks to sunscreen and evening sun). My legs are tired today, but mostly in a good way.
blk: (icicles)
LJ catchup: December


Since moving in together, One thing [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I actually have a lot less of is time without any of our kids around. So we've been taking advantage of the big holidays - when school is out and visiting families is normal - to go out on our own and enjoy some quiet time. This xmas, after stopping in Columbus for a couple days, we drove down to a secluded cabin in Germany Valley, WV, for a few quiet days of hiking and sightseeing.

how pale is the sky that brings forth the rain )

I've really enjoyed the past couple years of snow hiking we've done, and have decided to definitely do some next year as well. We'd love to find other people to go with. Anybody out there interested in driving out to some remote region, renting a cabin for a few days of kids-less quiet and relaxation, and going out hiking in lovely freezing cold weather with us? Now taking applications...
blk: (spicy)
Time for another yearly Arisia post!

This was my second year in driving there with [livejournal.com profile] xuth and boy instead of flying on my own. Although this year we had the advantage of a much larger car, which somehow still seemed to get completely filled up with Stuff. The drive up was better than last year, with no rain or snow or toothaches, but we still hit heavy fog in going through Connecticut, which is not all that fun.

breath of winter )
blk: (bike)
In a rare moment of a free summer weekend - no kids in town, and no other big plans - [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I decided to head down to Ohiopyle, PA for a couple days. Not to play in their rapids this time but to ride on their bike trail. So we grabbed the last available tent site in the local state park campground, packed up the (new and improved and larger) car with bikes and such, and headed out after work on Friday.

trails and pics )
blk: (spicy)
If I wait any longer to write up my yearly Arisia post, it'll never happen, so here's a trip report.

This year was very different in terms of trip planning, as I wasn't traveling there by myself, and didn't have to fly. [livejournal.com profile] xuth and the Boy were along for the ride, and somehow we managed to pack the three of us, all of my business things, food/clothes/etc for the weekend, and two pairs of stilts into our tiny car. The weekend started off pretty badly, with a toothache for Xuth, a sore throat for me, and varying amounts of snow that we got to drive through on our way out east. We crashed outside of town late Thursday, then settled into the hotel on Friday.

Read more... )

I spent the next week getting over the rest of my Ick physically, and enjoying the fact that there was nothing I needed to do, which involved a whole lot of sitting on the couch. This week I'm starting to get back into life at a more normal pace, which is to say that I've got things to do and a desire to do them.

See y'all next year.
blk: (snowball)
Last week, [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I decided to celebrate our xmas without kids around and go play in the snow without them, by spending a couple days hiking around Hocking Hills in Ohio. Pictures from the parks will be forthcoming; this entry is about the cabin where we stayed.

the cabin )

the game )

Our clues are in the above note. The full picture set of the cabin is here. All of the locations we mention are easily visible in the pictures. How many can you find? (Look before reading the comments, in case there are spoilers there)
blk: (bike)

Homestead Labyrinth

After I started physical therapy and my knee started improving again, I decided biking would be a great thing. I wasn't sure how hard I could push, and wanted to try to avoid getting stuck on big hills, so [livejournal.com profile] xuth and I took the tandem down to explore more of the bike trails along the rivers around here that claimed to be part of the Great Allegheny Passage. For extensive route description (and links), read on.


On Tuesday's trip out, we parked at the Eliza Furnace trailhead to explore trails around the confluence. Read more... )


On Thursday's trip out, I wanted to go down south to a section of the Great Allegheny Passage that I hadn't ridden before, which was hopefully more finished. Read more... )


In future trips, I'm interested in going back down to the trailhead in McKeesport to travel down south for a ways. Or possibly out west to the Montour side of things. I think I'm done with anything other than casual biking or short blading trips around the city trails. As much as the Great Allegheny Passage puts so much effort into bragging about itself as being "135 miles of hiking and biking!", they aren't particularly clear in some ways about exactly how much "under construction" the urban areas are. While there were certainly places where the path was nice and wide and smooth, in all the trail we went on, I don't think there was more than a few miles where there wasn't a detour onto a narrow sidewalk, or onto a street, or onto a rocky dirt path, or around parked cars, or around a boat, or across a busy street, or where the trail just flat out ends, with no alternate path. Construction has been progressing slowly, but very shakily, and at seemingly very low priority.

Most of the detour sections are doable on bike, but make for a very awkward if not impossible detour on inline skates, which I also like to take on trails if they are paved. Some of the paths are poorly kempt, providing annoying and sometimes dangerous debris for the smaller wheels. There's one loop around the main bridges that we always do, because it's the only one we can do, and even that has a stretch of cobblestone road which really sucks and an unfinished limestone bit we have to walk through. The trail system looks promising when it gets finished. I just wish it would happen faster.
blk: (stilts)
We had such a good time at Oxidation Arts last weekend that we decided at the last minute to go to WildFire this weekend. I actually didn't do any spinning or fireplay, but there was plenty enough else going on to keep me busy.

dizzy with life )

Today we drive home, through annoyingly wetter but nicely cooler weather, but making good time so far. I'm pretty sure I'd do this again, although necessarily leaving out most if not all of the negative factors. I think this is a workable goal, so now I just need a few years to work on my juggling...
blk: (tree)
I had this conversation all planned out in my head. Did you do all your leg exercises? the physical therapist would ask me on Monday. No, I would reply. I couldn't, because I was too worn out from the rest of the circus arts I was doing over the weekend. Of course, she never fed me the straight line, so my attempts at showing off kinda fell flat. But my knee was great.

What really happened is that [livejournal.com profile] nolemming and [livejournal.com profile] aryel_moffet convinced [livejournal.com profile] xuth and me to go down to Oxidation Arts, a firearts weekend workshop camping event in its inception year, held at Four Quarters, a hippie pagan retreat/campground that doesn't want to be called that, and organized by The Ohio Burn Unit, a group of fire performance artists based out of Ohio.

Read more... )
blk: (ow)
Today I enjoyed a great afternoon rafting down the lower Yough at Ohiopyle with a small group of friends. We didn't get stuck on too many rocks and kept the raft from ever flipping over. I even got a chance to captain for a bit, and, if i might say so, successfully kept us mostly in the right direction and correctly navigating a few rapids.

Unfortunately, towards the last half mile of the trip, my crew decided to mutiny, and conspired with the river to throw me overboard on one of the rapids (called Killer Rapid). It was a short fall, but I landed on a rock with my knee, which went "OW." The raftmates reacted quickly to pull me back in and reorient everything, and i lay on the bottom of the boat with my knee telling me "OWOWOWOW." A hard bump, I thought, but one that would be OK given a few minutes of not being able to move it. Sure enough, I even felt well enough to sit up and paddle a few minutes later.

cut for squeam )

Now I am at home with ice on an annoyingly tender knee, but being lovingly taken care of (and carried up stairs). I have instructions not to bend it much for the next week, so I'll be hobbling for a bit, and probably trying to not move around much, for at least as long as I can stand. Fortunately, I didn't have much in the way of plans. Got any good book recommendations?

Other than that, life's pretty peachy. More on the tomatoes later.

Update for the next day: OW-freaking-OW.

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