I’m insane

So – I have Insanity.

No – I’m not crazy (or ‘a nutter’) for my British friends.

I got a nasty comment today, probably from a dance mom. She commented on “Dance Moms 3”, asking why I’m so full of hate. I’m not full of hate. I’m cynical and speak my mind, but hate is going a little far… My post was probably colored by having spent three weeks at dance competitions dealing with the same kind of idiots, but I don’t hate them. We lose a lot of humor without voice inflections… Her other complaint was my spoof of “Butterfly Kisses”. I’m not sorry about that one. I hate the song… After all, it’s a country song. I deleted the comment, it was not the kid of thing that belongs here.

But I’m talking about a different kind of insanity, not blog readers with a chip on their shoulder.

I bought the “Insanity” workout DVD set. OF course, I bought them used, from a friend of mine, for a fraction of the cost. Seriously, they wanted three hundred dollars for the set, now THAT is insane. I can get the whole Harry Potter series for like fifty bucks now, and it wasn’t filmed in a dirty old high school gym. There’s not a single special effect in the Insanity workout (although I strongly suspect some surgical enhancements have occurred with some of the people working out).

First of all, I unpack the discs, of which there are about eight. Then I pull out the instructions. It’s a simple weekly chart of which discs to watch when. I understand there is a lot more to the whole package, including a food chart, some posters, sweat bands, and all that jazz. But since I got the set for $25, I can’t complain. It runs on a Monday-Saturday schedule, and you rest on Sunday.

So Monday I took the “fit test”. No one told me I had to write numbers down. There are eight exercises you are supposed to follow along with, after the “warm up” period. The warm up about did me in. Then he starts talking about the “Fit Test” starting. I’m thinking, what exactly have I been doing for fifteen minutes.

I think the video series is an attempt to give overweight people heart attacks, not make anyone fit.

Tuesday I was out late (for me, being out late is any time after 8pm) and didn’t have time to complete the second disc. So, Wednesday I fired up the “Cardio” routine, per the chart. Insanity is right. This guy had me jumping in the air, doing strange pushups, jogging while kicking myself in the ass with my own heels, and otherwise causing myself pain.

I like the leg exercises. After all this hiking and walking the treadmill, I can do leg stuff. I just have no body strength above the waist. After ten minutes, my Ab was sore. Some people have abs, I just have the one Ab. Needless to say, by the time my daughter called about twenty minutes into the thing, I was done. I’m hoping I get through all eight weeks of this without dumping the discs in the trash. I think it will be a big help in me not being a wheezing slob on the hiking trails, but we shall see.


Where is Ruth or Chris?

I did it. After all it was our anniversary. I finally broke down and took my wife to Ruth’s Chris.

For those of you who are uninformed, it’s a steak restaurant. What “Red Robin” is to McDonalds, Ruth’s Chris is to Outback. It’s a fancy place.

But not so fancy I had to wear a suit and tie… Which was very important. I hate dressing up. I have a suit I wear to weddings and funerals and to my wife’s school’s prom. I don’t go to church, so I don’t need a suit for that (I found Jesus already. We had a talk, and we agreed to leave each other alone). I feel out of place in a suit. They say “dress to impress”, but I don’t want to try and impress by “faking it”. I am who I am, putting on a suit doesn’t change that, and only makes me uncomfortable. So, with a nice polo shirt and slacks, I was okay. And no tie! Ties suck and serve no purpose. I think women invented the tie to punish men. We got them back when we invented the thong…

I’m used to Outback, Longhorn, and other steak places: long wooden tables with a napkin roll and a menu. I’ve eaten at fancy places before, with tablecloths and several glasses and a bunch of forks, but only once before at a steak place (that was a mistake – we were at the beach and wandered in). So sitting down to a table for four with plates and knives and glasses everywhere, I was thinking: where the heck is my food going to fit? They quickly whisked away the extras, leaving us with two glasses, knives and forks each. That I could handle…

Then they brought the menu and asked if we had ever been there before. No…

First we were told that the best choice was steak (duh) and then that they cook everything in an 1800 degree broiler. WTF? 1800 degrees? Where do you even get temperatures of 1800 degrees? I don’t think FIRE burns at 1800 degrees. Are they using a carbon arc heating element in there? (I went to a steel mill once with an arc furnace – imagine a stick of carbon the size of a phone pole with a 30 megawatt arc coming off the bottom into the pool of steel. That was hot…) Screw the steak, I just want to see this broiler.

Then we were told the steak is brought out on a 500 degree plate so it “stays hot while you eat it”. Stays hot? The damn thing is still cooking. Order your steak one notch below what you usually get, because a medium steak will be well done before you can put the thing in your mouth. I still can’t get over the broiler.

So they take our order and bring out the salad. The whole time I feel like a bull in a China shop. I’m trying my best not to embarrass my wife. The salads come, and I have this Caesar salad on a long rectangular plate. The salad is sort of sitting inside these two long leaves of Romaine lettuce. I had to ask my wife if I can eat the big leaves or is that considered “decoration”. I’m told I can eat them. I’m thinking, “Cool, this is like I’m part of the kitchen staff – I’m cutting up my own big pieces of lettuce.” I’m trying not to get any crumbs on the table cloth, but I keep having to pick them up because I don’t want the staff talking about the “baboon at table six messing up our nice table”

A side note here: Chefs, stop being assholes. Do NOT put anything edible on my plate that I’m not supposed to eat. Sprigs of parsley, mint, chives or whatever. I’m really tired of hearing, “You ATE that? It’s just for decoration!” I don’t want decoration on my plate. Decorations are for X-Ma$$ trees, parade floats, and other festive events. Stop making my food into some sort of artistic display with parts that I can’t eat.

Before my wife finishes her salad, a troupe of people come out and surround us like we’re about to be arrested or something. Our plates are whisked away. Then one of the staff runs this ice scraper thing around on the table in front of each of us us. I quickly figure out she is getting any errant crumbs up, and can barely contain laughter.  Once the dirty plates and crumbs (God Forbid!) are removed, the 500 degree sizzling steaks are set out before us. They look tasty enough, we just can’t touch them. Our side choices were mashed potatoes (her) and sautéed mushrooms (me), which were tasty, but a warning: When you put your mushroom or potatoes on your 500 degree plate, eat fast, because they quickly heat up, and while the first piece is nice and warm, the last bite is hot as Hell and you wind up swallowing a mix of half-chewed mushrooms and hastily acquired ice water.

Our steaks cooled to eating temperature within a few minutes (I don’t care how good the steak is, when you have to wash it down with a cold blast of tea to keep from setting your tongue on fire, they all sort of taste the same), and we can finally enjoy them. I dripped mushroom juice on the tablecloth, which I thought might be a death penalty offense there, so I made an effort to hide it with strategically placed flatware.

After finishing, our plates are again whisked away (no ice-scraper crumb girl this time), and ice cream and sorbet are brought out. There were three HUGE scoops in a big glass. There is a sprig of mint on top (which I’m told I can’t eat, damn you chef!) so I move it aside and try to eat some. I get about a scoop and a half in me, and I’m DONE.

Of course, when we arrived, we “checked in” on Facebook. One of my friends told me “Just wait until you get the bill!” The bill was no surprise (why would you go somewhere  these days where the price was an unknown? A restaurant bill should never really surprise you), and was about equal to what the Melting Pot runs, so I pronounced the evening a success. We tried something new, and had a good time at it. We’ll definitely go back… for a special event, of course. And I’ll go without a tie.

Intro to Hiking – Advanced Class

Another trip to panthertown, another example of WordPress getting all my pictures out of order. I think I fixed them.

This was the third try of the annual April backpacking trip. The first one was moved due to rain (resulting in me going anyway – and surprise – getting rained on), the second one was cancelled due to EXTREME rain and thunderstorms. So when this weekend rolled around and it was time to go, a forecast of only a 60% chance of rain on Sunday AFTERNOON, when we should be in the car going home, wasn’t that big of a deal. Just in case, I took my large tent fly instead of the small one. I’m glad I did.

Seven of us met at the normal place for this kind of thing, and proceeded up to the trailhead, after a brief stop at Caesar’s Head.

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Cindy and Alicia look out towards Table Rock

DSCN1710 (Medium)I was a bit concerned about the availability of camping spots, since the availability of PARKING spots was very slim. There were several cars and even what looked like a church van. We got settled and finally started walking.

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Mark and Amber look on while Virginia and Carol finish up.

The pack seemed heavier than last time – even though I was carrying less crap. Mark informs us that the wild briar tops growing at the edge of the path are edible (which they are). He also lets us know that the snakes like to hang out on the edge of the path. They require cooking, however.

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Carol, Mark and Cindy discuss eating wild plants while Alicia, Virginia and Amber approach.

Schoolhouse falls is our first stop. Note the nice sunny weather. Hahahahaha. Standing ankle deep in the cool water was very nice. The falls were running quite well.

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My ugly mutant feet.
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“Drop Packs” is usually a welcome expression.
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Amber catches me behind the falls.
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A side view of the falls
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Cindy and Virginia find a million tadpoles in the stream
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Cindy passes under the water, with Virginia, Alicia and Mark right behind….
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Last view of Schoolhouse…
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Putting shoes on? Where we’re going, we don’t need…shoes.

We headed out from Schoolhouse falls, over to Little Green for lunch. I tried barefooting again, which I seem to be getting better at. This time wasn’t nearly as painful as last, or so it seemed. It was definitely hotter. I was sort of missing the 45 degrees and rain from last time’s climb up the mountain. Okay, maybe while climbing up, but once at the top, it was nice to sit and not be wet.

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Alicia takes a water break, while Virginia arrives at the top, and Mark rests on his poles.
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View from my lunchtime table.

I think I stole that picture from someone. My memory card screwed up and dropped a couple of frames, but the view was pretty much the same for all of us.

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We are never satisfied with where we are. Always is the question, “Where are we going next?” Maybe our lives just move too fast.

From lunch, we headed down the hill towards Granny Burrell. There came a point at which Virginia, Amber and I got separated from the rest of the group due to some gear issues. Mark, Alicia, Carol and Cindy went on towards the falls, leaving us to our own devices.

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The ‘Shroom Tree
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Despite the way it looked, Amber did NOT taste the Shroom Tree.

After winding through the Rhododendron forest, we head Granny Burrell falls, and it was time for a nice rest and some water, and some exploring.

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Carol takes it easy.
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Amber and Mark, with Virginia and Alicia upstream. More of a slide than a falls, but interesting either way.
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The top of Granny Burrell. Maybe sliding isn’t that great of an idea, what with that drop and all…
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Looking back downstream
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Nap time?

When we arrived at the shelter area, I was surprised there was no one around. Having a huge empty expanse, we naturally clumped together all in one general area.

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Tents for Cindy, Virginia and Amber…
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My hammock, rain tarp and home made lounge chair. It needs a few tweaks but worked fine.
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Alicia eats, while Mark, Carol and Virginia pass the time.
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Beds of ferns near camp
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Mark and Mark cut down a dead tree for firewood.

Have you ever cut down a dead tree that’s about forty feet tall, with a chainsaw with a strap on each end? No? It’s something to try sometime, especially when you’re worried that the tree might fall on you or the tents because you did it wrong. But the thundering crash was pretty awesome, and all the little limbs broke off into nice firewood bits.

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Amber takes in the view from Big Green before sunset. But…we left before sunset.
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Alicia waits on sunset a little farther uphill from the sheer cliff. Carol? Completely out of view at this point.

After setting up camp and eating, four of us walked to the top of Big Green. Our leader entrusted me with three other souls, and luckily I made it to the top with Amber, Alicia, and Carol. Our intent was to sit on top of the cliff and wait on sunset. After being there about thirty minutes, with dark grey clouds coming in, the probability of pretty sunsets being slim, and the growl of something far off in the valley sounding like a bear, a consensus was reached to go back before dark.

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Ominous clouds…

By the time we got back, a fire was going, so it was time for another quick Cafe’ Latte drink, and a little post-Big Green dehydrated fruit handful, while we watched the sun go down.

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It was NOT this bright. The little camera likes to take every picture like it is broad daylight outside.

They call 9:00 “Hiker Midnight”. Usually this is a result of people walking all day and being tired, and having nothing to do once the sun goes down, and often hikers get up pretty early the second morning. So, if you hike for a week, suddenly you are up and moving at 6, and asleep by 9 again. This, however, is not my way. I typically get up at 6 and stay up until midnight, so “Hiker midnight” is still way too early for me to get in the hammock and stare at the rain fly above me. Gradually people drifted in and out, and finally out completely, until there were just two of us at the fire. The fireflies were floating about, and the stars seemed to be disappearing. There was a sudden subtle change in the ambient light for just a second.

“Was that lightning?” I asked. Yes, it was, somewhere we couldn’t see, as about five seconds later there was a faint rumble. The fire had died down to coals, so I pushed them into a heap in the middle and retired to my hammock.

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Cindy and Alicia watch the fire
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Cool sparks in the fire while Alicia and Amber relax. One of my favorite “campfire slow motion” pictures I’ve taken thus far.

Fifteen minutes later (about the time it takes me to change clothes in the hammock, set up my pillow and all my stuff around me) I heard a drip on my rainfly. Then another.

“Oh that’s just some pine straw dropping on the tarp,” I told myself. Nope. Suddenly there was s eries of drips, and I could hear ticks and tocks on the metal shelter roof. It was raining. Someone forgot to appeal to Thor that we were hiking, and could he not wait an extra day? It rained ALL night. I was thankful for several things.

1. I had eaten supper before the “Big Green” hike, and hadn’t drank much upon returning. I had also peed right before bed. I was good through the night.

2. Despite the weight, I brought the BIG rainfly instead of the little one, which extended much farther out and down on my hammock sides.

3. I had taken down my lounge chair, and pushed my pack up under my tarp.

I was NOT thankful about a few things.

1. I forgot my headphones, so I couldn’t listen to a movie or  “moonlight sonata” or even Dash Berlin (live in Miami for ASOT 600).

2. My ear plugs went missing, so at two in the morning when the “Snoring Symphony in C Major” began (in stereo – one on either side) I resorted to sticking paper towels in my ears.

3. I was worried that my tarp would leak.

I could NOT sleep. I tossed and turned and sweated to death. I was definitely NOT cold, not in the least. At 5:30 I heard a tent unzip and thought, “Hallelujah!” and began the hammock “birthing process”. After finding pants and putting on my fleece shirt and raincoat, I squirted out the bottom. No one was up. Screw it… I went for a bathroom break, grabbed my food, and hit the shelter. I figured someone would have “cheated” and snuck in with their sleeping bag, but nope. The place was dry and empty. I managed to cook my breakfast and eat it without spilling a drop of fuel or setting anything on fire. It turns out that my stove is a lot like my bear bag. It works PERFECTLY, when no one is watching. Gradually the others drifted in, with stories of went tents, wet bags, and other rain concerns. It took us a couple of hours to pack everyone up and get going. No one was really anxious to get going in the rain, but there was no stopping the inevitable.

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Mark purifies Carol’s water and Alicia packs up.

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A bear bag takes a hit from a raccoon…we hope.

Because of the weather we elect to skip the loop around Wilderness falls, and head straight out. The group dons packs and begins the tough slog up Big Green, finally coming together at the top.

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From the left: Carol, Alicia, Cindy, Virginia, Amber and Mark.

The slog DOWN Big Green seemed easier than last time, I don’t know why. Even the slick rocky bits didn’t seem as slick and nasty. Then we got to the creek crossing. Normally it is knee deep on me. This time, it was a little higher.

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Me, trying not to get swept down river.

After the creek crossing, Cindy announces that she will wait as we do the out-and-back to Greenland Creek. Seeing a nice chance for an easy hike, the rest of us abandon our posessions and head through the twisting, mind boggling path that leads over roots, through mudholes, and across boulders. There are a few considerations for Greenland Creek.

1. Give up all pretense of keeping your shoes dry, or:

2. Go barefoot.

Barefoot hiking is one way to reconnect with the Earth. It’s also a way to reconnect with roots, thorns, sharp rocks, horse poo and other pointy painful things. There are a lot of barefoot-friendly trails. Greenland Creek is not. Not wanting to have sopping, ruined shoes, I elected to go barefoot, which was an exercise in masochism. Walking from root to root, I felt like I should be being pushed along by a feirce-looking woman in leather. We finally came to the falls.

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Downstream from the falls. Its size is deceptive here…
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Amber, Me (barefoot!) and I think Alicia is walking on the giant pine tree behind…
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There was a pounding, misting, roaring turgidity to the falls this time.

Greenland Creek falls WAS actually the brownish color picked up by the camera. I guess so much dirt was being churned up and pushed downstream, it colored the water.

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I try to move out of the way for Carol and Amber to take pictures.
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That’s me in the bushes. I look like that creepy guy in the corner of the Goodwill logo. But the size of the falls is more apparent.
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Looking downstream from that rock in the above photo.
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Looking up at the falls from the same rock.

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Looking along the face of the lower bit, from the same rock…
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Greenland Creek Falls, unobstructed

From Greenland Creek we walk steadily back to grab packs, and then on down Mac’s Gap to the cars, through on and off rain the whole way. Then it was down to our typical end-of-hike eating place, the Twin Dragon in Brevard. I guess we looked and smelled like ruffians, because they almost cheated me out of five dollars in change (on purpose?) and they tried to claim one of our group left without paying. Very uncool. Next time, seeing as Hendersonville is just as quick a trip back, I’m thinking of stopping at the Flat Rock Village Bakery. It’s much more my style.

Okay that’s the LAST time I let youtube “fix” a shaky video. They suck. But here it is if you want to see it…


Thank you for visiting.