Neat!

The Shake (an online Australian magazine) published one of my articles.

COOL.

It makes me feel like a legit writer, or something.

Anyways, you can go read it here:

Click here to read about animal sex, because I’m classy like that.

Also, in the spirit of “it’s my blog and I feel like bragging on myself”:

Guess who had a bright red face and cried when she crossed the finish line of her first 10k last Saturday?

I didn’t even puke afterwards, although there were a few minutes where it was touch and go. 

I said as much to the bake sale lady while I was sipping water, trying to calm down, and the look on her face reminded me that I really need to find a way to get better at small talk.

Anyways, I went for a nice, slow run today (and by slow I mean that the DragonMonkey leaned his head back at one point and asked if he could get out and walk beside the stroller) and realized that one day I may even be crazy enough to try a half marathon… or at the very least a Ride and Tie event.

Maybe I’ll even learn how to cross the finish line without bursting into happy tears.

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Ignorance is Bliss

About two weeks ago we put away the step stool which was in front of the boys’ bathroom sink.

It seemed a logical decision. While the stepstool’s original purpose was to help The Squid and The DragonMonkey wash their hands, they were only using it for evil.

We figured it was easier for us to lift them up a couple times a day to wash their hands than to constantly supervise their every movement whenever they disappeared around the corner. 

We thought it was a good plan.

Yeah… uh, no. 

It wasn’t. 

For the past week, several times a day, The Squid has been running up to me and boasting about the fact he has clean hands.

“Hey, Ma!  I clean hands!  I  clean hands!” 

And you know what? He was right.  He did have clean hands…. which should have clued me in that something was wrong.   The Squid is, without equal, the filthiest child I’ve ever met. 

Here is a picture of him I took at 9:05 in the morning a few days ago.  This picture was taken less than 10 minutes after I took him out of the shower:

“Squid!  What have you been doing, eating dirt?!”
“No, Ma.  I no eat dirt.  I lick dirt.  Lick the nummy dirt.”

In retrospect, I should have known.

I should has known there was a creepy reason for his hands to be clean, and I should have asked him why he felt it was necessary to keep mentioning it to me. 

Alas, I didn’t figure it out until today.

Today.

Today, when I rounded the corner…. and then stopped dead as I saw The Squid leaning over into the toilet, scrubbing his hands industriously.

And that’s when I realized it.

He wasn’t forgetting a verb in his sentence.  He hadn’t been saying “I have clean hands” all those times.

He meant exactly what it sounded like – he had just finished “cleaning” his hands.

Only the last I checked, scrubbing your hands in toilet water several times a day…

in the same toilet your older brother uses…

the same older brother who consistently refuses to flush after he pees….

Well….

Well, that’s the exact opposite of clean.

“I clean hands!  Ma, look!  I clean hands!”

When I think of all the times I touched his hand this past week, or shared a bag of popcorn with him, or all the other million ways I touched those hands….

Ignorance was bliss.

It was an unsanitary, peaceful bliss.

Knott’s Soak City

I was attacked by ninjas.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to type up a blog post when you’re fending off silent shadows of death?

I did write a post.  It was the most inspiring, poignant blog post anybody had ever read, in the history of all literacy.  In fact, it was so brilliant that I was singlehandedly responsible for every single Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City ticket sale during the 2012 season.  You’re welcome.  What’s that?  You don’t remember reading it?  Well, they say that mind is the first thing to go.

Oh, no!  Someone stole all my fingers!  It’s really, really hard work typing things out with my tongue.  You can’t be angry with a tongue-typer, can you?  It’s like hitting a man with glasses, only worse.

Disneyland caught wind of how much fun I had at Soak City and sent mobsters to my house to rough me up and scare me out of publishing my review.  They said if I published my blog post that they’d hurt a kitten…. a KITTEN.  I could hear its pitiful, heart-wrenching meows in the background.  A poor, innocent kitten!  Those MONSTERS!

Or, perhaps, the truth:

What in the WORLD was I thinking?  I was in the middle of leaving my job, packing my house, and seeing to all the details of a 1,000 mile move.  I can barely make it to the grocery store on a schedule.  Why did I think I was going to be able to say yes to Knott’s Berry Farm’s offer of free tickets to the Soak City opening weekend, and then somehow come up with an honest, interesting review within a decent length of time?

If I’d managed to write it within a week or two… or maybe even a month or two, it could have been forgiven.   I did manage to get down the framework of the day, but I kept putting off polishing it up and posting it. 

The thing was, I had such a great time that I felt obligated to turn in the WORLD’S MOST INCREDIBLE REVIEW EVER!!!  It would have been a lot easier if I’d had a crappy time, or even a mediocre time.

Unfortunately for the Knott’s, I didn’t.  I had a great time.  And the longer I took to post (seriously, how did all the other bloggers manage to post within a day or two of going?  I bet they’re the same kind of weirdos that remember to write thank you notes and always pair up their socks before putting them away in the sock drawer), the more I realized that I was going to have to make it a really, really, REALLY good review to make up for how long it took me.

But the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months… and the next thing I knew it was November, and cold, and I lived a thousand miles away, and writing a review about a water park which was closed for the season just didn’t even make sense.

So.

Yeah.

Heya, Knott’s.  I bet you thought I forgot about you, didn’t you?  Well, I didn’t.  In fact, so you know, we had such a great time at your park that when my family came up from Mexico to visit last summer, the first place my parents dragged them was to Soak City.

Anyways, here goes.
******
Have you ever had one of those absolutely perfect days?

They don’t happen very often – not once a week, or once a month, or even once a year.  Maybe it’s their rarity that makes them so precious – rich, warm, golden moments where time itself seems to slow in honor.

The day we went to Soak City at Knott’s Berry Farm didn’t start out like a perfect day.  Maybe that’s why it made such an impact on me.

In fact, the day itself started out pretty crappy.

I was fat.  I know there’s no one to blame but myself for that one, but it didn’t make cramming myself into a bathing suit any more pleasurable.

Also, the Squidgelet was sick.  He’d started in with the coughing the day before, and by the time Sunday morning rolled around, he was trailing green snot down his face, occasionally smearing it around with a grubby little hand.

I know I’m his mom, but when I walked into his room that morning to get him out of his crib, even I didn’t want to touch him. 

There was no way I could take him with me…. which meant that instead of the wonderful day of bonding I’d envisioned with The Bean, the kids and myself, I was going to have to take my parents instead. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love my mom and stepdad, but it just wasn’t what I had in mind.  I was having a hard enough time dealing with the fact that I was going to be parading around in public in a bathing suit (who invented women’s swimsuit fashions, anyways?).  Having my plans derailed by greenish, slimy snot and a grumpy baby turned my mood from grumpy into downright foul.

And then there was the DragonMonkey.

“Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?  Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?  Go fwimming?  Go fwimming?  Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm Soak City?”
Stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid Becky.  Why?  Why did I always forget ,and end up telling the DragonMonkey about things early?  I guess it’s because I liked seeing him happy, but really, I ought to have known better.  No good every came out of telling a three year old kid about something ahead of time.  What was I thinking?  Did I really think he would hear the news, nod sagely, reach for a toy, and continue playing peacefully?

Quite right, Mother.  We are going to Knott’s Berry Farm’s Soak City today.  What a grand adventure we shall have.  Thank you for this lovely opportunity.  Would you please pass me Thomas the Train?  I shall endeavor to keep myself quietly busy while you prepare everything for our outing.”

Nope.  He was three.  This meant that from the moment he’d heard about Soak City the night before, he’d been trailing around behind me like I had him on a leash, tapping me with his hand to get my attention, and repeating the same cycle of questions over and over again.

Where we going to Knott’s Berry Farm?
Yes.  Well, sorta.  We were going to Knott’s Berry Farm’s water park.

Where we going on the train?
No.  The normal section of Knott’s Berry Farm had the train.  We were going to Soak City – their water park. 

Soak City?
Yes.  It’s across the street from the regular Knott’s Berry Farm.  It has water.  Slides.  Pools.  We could go swimming.

Fwimming?
Yes.

Fwimming on a twain?
NO.  There were no trains.  Besides, you can’t swim on a train.  There’s no water.

Does Knott’s Bewwy Fawm have a twain?
Yes.  But we are going BESIDE Knott’s Berry Farm – to Soak City.  They will have pools.  And slides.  And swimming.

Soak City?
Yes.

Fwimming?
Yes.

Fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?
Yes – at Soak City.

Soak City?
YES!  YES, WE’RE GOING TO SOAK CITY. 

By the time we were loaded up in the minivan and on our way, I was daydreaming of taping his adorable little mouth shut.  Just two minutes of silence.  Please? Just give two Mama two minutes of precious, beautiful, blessed silence.  PLEASE?!

“KNOTT’S BEWWY FAWM?  WE GO FWIMMING AT KNOTT’S BEWWY FAWM?”
“Yes!  YES!  WE’RE GOING TO SOAK CITY.  PLEASE JUST SIT THERE AND BE QUIET, FOR THIRTY SECONDS.”

There was a brief moment of silence, just long enough to give me hope, and then, “Go fwimming at Soak City?  Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?”

“Here.  Have a cookie.”  It was a little early in the morning for cookies, but chewing kept his mouth occuppied, and an occupied mouth meant a brief reprieve from “Go fwimming Knott’s Bewwy Fawm?”

Parking was easy – I’ve never been in a more convenient parking lot.  With most amusement parks you have to park way out in Timbuktu, and memorize latitude/longitude coordinates so you can hopefully find your way back to the same zip code.

The parking lot for the water park was wonderfully close to the actual water park (gasp!  What a concept!), so score one for Knott’s.

On the other hand, the happy glow brought about by nice parking soon faded when we started dragging all of our stuff out of the car.

Unloading bag after bag of kid-related crap was vaguely depressing, and can best be described by haiku:

I love my children
But they need way too much stuff
Stuff, stuff, stuff, yuck, stuff

Thankfully we didn’t have a very long walk to the front gate, where I met a friendly woman at the check-in table.

I tried to be classy, and act like I was someone cool, but I’m pretty sure I ruined it by audibly squealing when she handed me my favorite thing in the entire world:  Free Stuff.

I want to say that I am a classy person with a discerning palate…. but the truth is, I go gaga over anything that’s free.

That said, it was some pretty awesome stuff.  There was a mesh swim bag that I still drag with me EVERYWHERE, even though it’s been a year since they gave it to me.

I’m not the only one who loves it – it’s Fat Cat’s favorite place to pee in the entire world,  but that’s a different story.  Also, Knott’s?  Whatever you paid for that bag was worth it – that thing holds up to a LOT of washing.

Inside the bag was all sorts of cool stuff.  There were a couple of bags of Knott’s Berry Farm cookies, which are one of my all-time-favorite things ever.  If you haven’t had any, I highly recommend them.

Those cookies are AWESOME.  They come in flavors like “Raspberry” and “Boysenberry” and other fruit like that, so you can pretend you’re actually eating something healthy.

Yes, yes, I know there’s a reason I don’t look good in a bathing suit.  Shut up.   

Anyways, I’m pretty sure the cookies in the Bag of Free Stuff were for me to share with everyone… but the parents were on a diet, and the DragonMonkey is allergic to gluten, so it fell on me to eat all four bags.  I mean, I couldn’t just drag them around all day, right?

Oh, the humanity.  It was terrible. 

Because I didn’t make a note of it, and because I have the memory of a houseplant, I only remember two other items that were in that bag :

  1. A Knott’s Soak City OC towel: this towel has become the bane of my existence.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a very nice towel.  The problem is that according to the DragonMonkey, it’s HIS TOWEL, HIS KNOTT’S SOAK CITY TOWEL, NOBODY ELSE CAN USE THAT TOWEL, and woe to anyone else who dares to touch it.  He seems genuinely attached to the towel, so for the most part I try to respect his unreasonable passion for it…. but as you all know, I’m terrible at keeping up with the laundry, and, well… a towel is a towel.  Sometimes, when you need to take a shower, you just plain need a clean towel…. and there’s nothing quite as creepy as pulling back the shower curtain, and reaching for a towel…. only to have a short, angry person burning holes in your skin with his WHY-ARE-YOU-TOUCHING-MY-TOWEL glare. 
  2. Flaccid, wrinkled, pointy noodles –   I’m serious.  I had no idea what they were for most of the day…. and then about 30 minutes before we were ready to leave, I suddenly figured it out.  All around the park they have little water stations.  You take your flaccid, semi-phallic noodle thingie (I’m sorry, but that’s what it looked like), plug it into the little water tower stations they have situated around the park, and VOILA!  It fills with water (one might almost say it becomes turgid), and you have a neat little water gun type toy.  I wish I’d figured it out sooner.  I’m not one for purchasing souvenirs and stuff, but those things are definitely worth the money.  We had some awesome water fights with them.

The entrance to the park was really pretty.

I know this because I spent about 15 minutes there while my stepdad trotted back to the car for some cash.  It turns out that to rent the locker rooms was cash only – that may have changed by now, but that’s how it was when we went last year.

For the record, I wasn’t going to write about the cash-only thing, but my mom insisted I put it in there.

“This is cash only?”  She shook her head in disappointment at the attendant as my stepdad made his trip to the car.  “You guys are missing out on some business.  What if we didn’t have any cash in the car?”

The attendant mumbled something apologetic, and my mom turned back to me, shaking her head.   “Make sure you inform your readers about this.”

“Mom, it’s not like that.  I don’t have ‘readers’ – like, actual people who hang around and wait for me to review stuff.”

“They need to know about it anyways.  What if they didn’t bring cash?”

So, there you have it.  A year later:  Bring cash if you want a locker.

Speaking of lockers and boring non-ride stuff like that, the bathroom facilities are pretty legit.  Once again, my mom took her reviewer responsibilities very seriously.  She walked the entire length of the shower/changing areas with pursed lips, examining every nook and cranny, before returning.

“These are very nice facilities,” she announced.  “Make sure you let your readers know they’re nice.”

“Mom… seriously.  It’s not that kind of a blog.  People who read my blog aren’t interested in the bathrooms, unless I embarrass myself in them, somehow.” 

She ignored me. 

“Becky, take a picture to show how nice they are.”

“MOM.  I’m not taking a picture in the bathroom.  I’m pretty sure that’s against the law.”

“Why?  Nobody’s here.  Here.  I’ll move out of your way.  Take a picture to show your readers.”

“Moooooom.  Seriously.  I can’t walk around and take pictures of a changing room and shower area.   This is where people get naked, and change clothes and stuff. What if someone sees me?  Someone’s going to think I’m a pedophile.  That’s the kind of creepy thing that will get me sent to jail.  I’m not doing it.”

“Rebeca Bean, just take the picture.”

See, there’s a problem with bringing your mom to your fancy functions.  She’s, like, your MOM.  And when she pulls out your full name… well…

“Fine, fine!  Just… here.  Get DragonMonkey in the picture, so it looks less weird if someone comes in.”

Becky Bean:  Taking creepy bathroom pictures because her mom told her, since 1981.   

Also, Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City:  Passing my mom’s very strict “are the bathrooms nice and clean” standards, since 2012.

Anyways, once we made it out of the restrooms, the rest of the day was, well, it was perfect.

The venue was perfect, as you can see from the exquisitely detailed picture below:

Just kidding.

Dear Knott’s:  This is a ridiculously tiny image because I totally stole it off of your website.  Dude.  What is this… a water park for ants? (Zoolander reference for those of you who don’t watch it nearly as often as I do.)

Seriously though, you guys need better pictures.  That Toyota Beach House “ride” thingie, with the pullies, and the levers, and that giant bucket of water that dumped on you was, like, THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER.  That picture you have of it looks like a bunch of tiny naked people standing in line for a group shower – which is exciting for some people if they’re into that, I guess, but it doesn’t really show how totally awesome it is. If you need a recommendation for new pictures I’d go with John Norling Photography – he’s done work for Hearst Castle, and other fancy places like that, and is very affordable for how great he is.   Or if you have your own photographer, just have him take some new pics.   Also, if you do have better pictures and I’m just too ADD to find them, you need to make them more ADD accessible. 

After all, how many ADD kids does it take to change a lightbulb?
Hey, wanna go ride bikes?

Anyways.  Where was I?

Ah, yes.  The perfect day.

The venue was perfect.

The weather was perfect. 

Even the DragonMonkey was perfect:

Like I said, the whole day was just perfect.
Now, here’s the secret, and yes, Knott’s Berry Farm sent me here for free, and yes, I’m a great big slut when it comes to free stuff, but believe me when I say that I’m telling the 100% non-biased truth:

We had that much fun BECAUSE of how cool Soak City is.

And that was due to one very, very important factor:

Soak City is not a meat market.

I feel like I’m doing a disservice to Wild Rivers by even bringing this up, because I honestly loved that place and was really, really sad when it closed down, but if you ever went to Wild Rivers, or Raging Waters, then you know what I’m talking about.

Those places are a creepy dude’s dream come true, and a low-self esteem chick’s worst nightmare.  I even felt that way when I was 14 years old and in my skinny prime.

Wild Rivers was a lot bigger than Soak City – I’m not gonna lie.  They had more rides, and the kid/lounging area was significantly larger.

The thing is, I never really enjoyed myself there, because I was too busy feeling annoyed and ashamed as I watched 14 year olds mincing around in string bikinis, batting their eyelashes at college-aged guys.  It bothered me on a lot of levels – first off, they were too young for that crap.  I mean, I hate to sound like a boring mom, but I the last time I went I wanted to grab them by their thin little shoulders and shake them.  “You’ve got your whole life to play ‘Who Wants to Hide the Sausage’ – knock it off!  Quit the flirting, grab what’s left of your childhood, and just enjoy yourselves!  Stop mincing about!”

Also – did they really have to look so skinny, tanned, and perfect in their teensy little bikinis?  Stupid little taut, thin-thighed teenagers.  
The thing is, Soak City didn’t have that sex-charged vibe.  Even though everyone was still running around in bathing suits, and bathing suits show a lot of skin, the place had a very family-friendly, easy-going feel to it.  There were a couple of teenagers flirting about, but they were the exception to the rule, rather than the norm.

And you know what?

It was really nice.

For an entire day I just hung out with my family, and relaxed, and rode rides, and just stopped caring about how I looked in a bathing suit, or if we live in an over-sexed society, or the fact that I had to pack a whole bunch of stuff and move 1,000 miles away in a few short days, or any of that.

I went down slides with The DragonMonkey:

I lounged in the sun chairs with my family.

I watched my son have an absolute blast the entire time he was there – there were no meltdowns, or crying, or anything.
I’d go into description of all the rides, but I didn’t take a lot of pictures (I was too busy having fun), and, honestly, their website does a better job of describing it anyways, although you shouldn’t judge the coolness of their rides from their sparse pictures:

 

So it was a perfect day, with the exception of one thing:
Holy CRAP, I got sunburned.

Dude.  I mean, I know I’m white.  I may be half-Mexican, but you sure can’t tell it from my skin.

My forearm is pretty pale, and, well… here’s what it looks like against my leg:

The thing is, I know I’m really white, and I take precautions. Before I even left the house I slathered myself up with SPF 50, waterproof… and then I reapplied it several times throughout the day.  And yet… if you look in the picture above, you can already see the pink starting to sprout. 

It only got worse from there.  When I tell you I fried like a lobster, I’m telling you:  I fried like a lobster. The next week, once it had started to heal, my skin didn’t peel.  Oh, no.  I freaking molted.  It was disgusting.

To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything I could have done to avoid it.  SPF 50 is pretty strong stuff, and it didn’t do a darn thing to protect my skin. Unless they start coming out with SPF Wool Sweater, I think I’m just destined to sunburn.

Still, the mom in me wants to warn you.  If you are going to check out Soak City, bring some sunblock.  Lots of sunblock.  The sun reflects (refracts?) off the water and turns it into some kind of nuclear ray with skin-searing power. 

Anyways, there you have it.  If you’re in there area, I highly, HIGHLY recommend checking out Soak City OC.  There season passes are pretty affordable in the grand scheme of amusement parks – I think they go up in price starting on May 27th, so if you’re thinking of buying, buy soon. 

As far as how The DragonMonkey liked it, well, it’s been a year since we went there and he still asks to go back, from time to time.  A year to a four year old is a pretty huge deal, so I think it’s safe to say he had a great time there.

Also, Knott’s?  Seriously.  I’m sorry it took so long for me to write this up. 

Also, thank you for the memories of a really wonderful day. I know it sounds like I’m sucking up, but I’m not.  It was really that awesome of a day.

Mother’s Day Weekend

Things that embarrass me:

It’s been over two days since I took a 15 minute horseback riding lesson, and I still can’t walk right.

Ow.  My thighs.

OWWWWWWWWW. 

Ever since I moved up here to the Pacific Northwest I’ve been wanting to take a lesson with Dory, the trainer over at Fish Creek Farm up in Washington.  My desire to take a lesson was due to a variety of reasons….. most of which boiled down to:

  1. Dude.  She’s totally affordable.  
  2. Everyone who trains with Dory speaks of her lessons and riding ability in hushed, reverent tones.  I find it intriguing, because the people who are so in awe of her are serious horsewomen themselves.
  3. No, seriously.  She’s affordable.

Friday morning I dropped the boys off at a friend’s house and made the drive up past Seattle to Fish Creek Farm. 

Yes, that’s right.  For Mother’s Day I ran away from my kids.

Come on.  You can admit it.  Isn’t that what every mom really want for Mother’s Day?
Who doesn’t daydream of a little quiet time to herself and a full night’s sleep with no responsibilities? 

Yeah.  Me too.

The drive was uneventful (AND QUIET!), but since I got a late start I arrived a little later than I had originally planned.  As I was running behind schedule, I had thrown on some half chaps and was up on a horse almost before the dust from my tires had even settled.

For the record, that is the way that all road trips should end.

Also for the record:  I may or may not have put my half chaps on the wrong way and walked around with them facing completely backwards until someone let me know.

Don’t worry – one day, with a lot of practice, you can be just as good at horse stuff as I am.

Once I got straightened out Dory threw me up on Gangster – a sweet faced paint with a nice, solid build.

In the picture above this I look like I’m just kind hanging out in the saddle, leaning too far forward.  
The reality is that I am deep in conversation with my legs, begging them to ignore the build up of lactic acid and do what Dory was asking.

I know, I know.  All of you English riders are snickering under your breath.  You guys have probably been holding two point and stuff like that since you were six years old.  You’ve got thighs of steel and can crush beer cans with only a slight twist of your knees.

I don’t.  Apparently, I have flabby, useless thighs.  All of this “hold two point with no stirrups for two laps around the arena” stuff was really new to me, and my legs let me know that they did NOT approve.

I wasn’t even aware that it was possible to drip sweat and gasp for breath just riding a horse at a walk.

I was wrong. 

Fifteen minutes later, legs visibly trembling from the “warm up exercises,  I had to crawl off the horse and hand him back because I had broken him.

I never actually got the official word on what was wrong with Gangster – it might have been tying up from “the heat” (a whopping 75 degrees – all you desert people can engage in a deep belly laugh right about now) or the beginnings of founder, or…? 

All we knew is that a normally good-natured horse was sulky and refusing to trot, sweating way too much for the amount of work he was being asked to do, and the muscles along his flanks were quivering in a steady tremor.

I gotta tell you, I hate breaking other people’s toys.  Even if it wasn’t really my fault, I still felt a little guilty.

Since the lesson was cut short we headed back to Aarene’s place, who had graciously offered to let me crash in her spare bedroom.

Lounging in the grass, drinking good root beer and watching chickens and a horse graze simultaneously is the way all Friday evenings should be spent.

We spent the evening roasting hot dogs and visiting with a couple of of her friends who dropped by. I’d like to say that I was fascinating company, but the truth was I spent 90% of the night poking a stick into the fire and trying to remember how to interact with other adults.

It turned out that I didn’t need to worry about being interesting – Aarene’s friend kept us in stitches with stories about her father-in-law “The Hammer”.  No, that’s not me coming up with a code name.  She really does have a father-in-law that everyone calls “The Hammer” – an 80 year old manly man who was recently thrown out of his local YMCA for brawling.  The stories just got better from there.

Some people’s families are just cooler than mine.

The next morning we got up and headed north to drive to Greener Pastures.  Duana was originally slated to drive – a roadtrip of four horse women all crammed into an adorable Mini. Unfortunately, she had forgotten her passport at home so the three of us (Aarene, Siri, and I) piled into my Scion and headed north.

That far north the view on the 5 freeway is both beautiful and monotonous.

If you look to the left, you see green trees.

If you look to the right, you see green trees.

If you look in your rearview mirror you will see some green trees you’ve just driven past.

Up ahead, if you squint reeeaaaaally hard, you can make out– you guessed it:  Green trees.

I spy with my little eye… something green.

Aarene, who is honestly one of the coolest people in the entire world to go on a roadtrip with, was regaling us with stories about the places we past, complete with local history and interesting side notes.

Seriously, if you ever get a chance, roadtrip with a gregarious librarian.  It’s informative AND fun.

About halfway to the Canadian border, as she was speaking, I noticed that I began to get a little lightheaded.  I’m not prone to carsickness unless pregnant, and I knew that wasn’t the case, so maybe it was just too stuffy in the car?

I cracked the window, tilting my face into the breeze, but the feeling didn’t go away.

Maybe I was nauseous, and my body was interpreting it strangely?  I was already chewing a piece of gum, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a new piece.

Nope.  That didn’t help either. 

In fact, it was getting worse.  Not only was I edging from lightheaded to just plain dizzy, my heart had begun to race violently.  I reached my fingers up to the side of my neck and discreetly tested my pulse – not only was faster than normal, but it felt like each heartbeat was two to three times harder than it should have been.

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I really don’t like getting sick in front of people.  Call it pride, or fear of showing weakness, or whatever, but if I’m going to get sick I like to do it in the privacy of my own home, without anyone watching.  It’s one thing for me to tell this story in retrospect on the internet – it was another thing to go through it in front of witnesses. I was feeling really, really weird, but I didn’t want to say anything about it.

I shifted in my seat, uncomfortably, and tried to slow my racing heart by taking deep, even breaths through my mouth.  The air felt stale, almost too thick.  I lowered my window even further, hoping to clear my head with the fresh air.   What the heck was going on with me?  Was I having some kind of weird caffeine reaction to the cup of coffee I had earlier? 

“You know,” Aarene said.  “They’ve tried to develop this land around us quite a few times, but it’s never worked out.  Strange things happen in these mountains.”

I glanced at the mountains rising up around me – at the towering, thick layer evergreens all around me….. shadowed, impenetrable.  Foreboding.

I took a few more deep breaths, but they didn’t help.  My heart was absolutely racing, I was downright dizzy and for some inexplicable reason my hands were beginning to shake.  I gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to clamp down on it and get control of myself, but it didn’t help.  

What the hell was going on with me?

“The locals weren’t surprised when nobody can make anything work out in these mountains – if you talk to the local tribes, they all stay away from this mountain.”

I blinked hard, and shook my head to try to clear it, but whatever was wrong wasn’t going away – it was just getting worse.

There are many places where it’s inconvenient to either pass out or have a total nervous breakdown.  Driving 70 mph down a busy freeway with two passengers in your car kind of tops the list.

“Hey, uh, Aarene?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you drive stick?”

“Yeah, I do.  You getting carsick?  You need to pull over and puke?”

“… I’m not nauseous. I just… I just don’t feel right.”

“Well, I really don’t think you should pull off in this area.  It’s just…”  She shook her head.  “It’s just not a good area.  There’s a rest stop just up ahead, but I just really don’t recommend it.” 

I squeezed the steering wheel tighter, trying to control the shaking, and debated whether or not I could make it to the rest stop, much less anything further.

Nope.  It wasn’t gonna happen. 

Whatever was wrong with me, I needed to get out from behind the wheel of this car, immediately.  I felt like my heart was going to rip out of my chest from the force of its beats – what if I passed out and killed us all in a car crash?  I was keeping it together, but just barely. 

I turned on my blinker, crossed four lanes of traffic in about ten seconds, and pulled the Scion to a stop on the side of the road. 

Aarene exited out her door and around the back of the car and I crawled over the center divider into the passenger seat.  I put on my seatbelt and leaned forward, burying my face in my hands as the tears began to flow, trying to get control of heart, my breathing, the shaking in my hands that had now traveled all the way from my hands to my arms… and most importantly I tried to dampen down the overwhelming sense of dread and fear that felt like it was gripping my chest in an icy band.

I began praying, but I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t really think of the right words.

Five minutes later we were approaching the outskirts of Bellingham, and I was 100% recovered, except for a lingering sensation of acute embarrassment. 

I decided to try to put whatever had happened behind me.  Was it some kind of spiritual attack?  Was it some kind of panic attack?  Maybe I had some kind of an ear infection brought on some kind of allergy?

The day was young, I was on my way to Canada, and I was about to visit the Greener Pastures horses.  I could think about what happened later on. 

We crossed the border and finally arrived at the barn.  It felt almost surreal to actually see the horses in person – for those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook, I’ve been actively stalking Greener Pastures for two years.  Not only do I fully support what they’re doing (rehoming retired Standardbred racehorses), but I love the work they do with each horse.  All their horses are fat, shiny, and healthy – the ones who underweight or who have dull coats join the ranks of fat and shiny within a few weeks and/or months. 

I support any rescue who can show improvements like that in such a short time.

Anyways, onto the horses.

They had about 10 horses on the property, but only a couple really fit what I was looking for. 

Although I knew we weren’t really going to be buying a horse until later in the summer, I was really excited about seeing Chester in real life.

I’d had a big crush on him when he went through the program last year, so when he was returned due to financial hardship, I couldn’t help but get a little excited.

He was just as cute in real life, and MUCH larger than he appeared in his photo album.  The lady on his back, Alina, is about 5’11 in real life – and about 90% of that is in her legs.  She makes him seem like a nice, boring size.  In real life he was tall enough I had trouble trying to imagine how the heck I would get in the saddle without a mounting block.

Despite his beautiful movement, there just wasn’t any click, so I didn’t spend much time with him.

Horse number two was called Heart to Beat:  She’s an older mare, early teens, and built like the side of a barn.

She also had the world’s most ridiculous “scratchy face”.  This picture just doesn’t quite encapsulate how stupid of an expression she was making.

I liked how solid she seemed, but despite her friendliness she was a little bit mareish – nothing bad, but she would need a few lessons to remind her where she needs to be in the pecking order.  If she’s available in August, when I’m hoping to get a horse (DUDE.  I’M IN THE MARKET FOR A HORSE.  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!) I will definitely check her out.

The third horse, Red Star Vamp, is the one who really stole my heart.

 I’d say something about the slightly stoned expression on my face, something like, “What the heck is going on with my face?”… but, yeah.  That’s kind of how I look like every time I get a hug from a horse.  Did you really expect anything different?

I gotta be honest – Vamp is much, MUCH younger than I would really be looking for.

She’s only three.

Or rather, her third birthday is in a couple of days.

Her personality oozed out of her— and I’m talking “whipped cream oozing out of the world’s most delicious cream puff” typing of oozing, not “puss from a rotten wound” type of oozing.  The filly just radiated an aura of friendly happiness.  When you combine that with her nice conformation and her overall mental maturity, well…

It was a pretty intoxicating combination for someone as horse-starved as I was.

She was a pretty decent mover, too, for as young as she was.

With horse buying not occurring until closer to the end of summer, there’s a decent chance somebody else will snap her up before I am ready. 

I really hope that she’s still around, though.  I mean, look at her.  She’s adorable.

Anyways, that’s what I did for my Mother’s Day Weekend.  What did all of you guys do?