I must have been the worst mother ever

I love cats. They fill crevices in my heart with warmth. But they’re animals. I’m not really their mother.

So why do I worry about them more than I remember worrying about my kids?

Case In Point

We planned our week away several months in advance. And I contracted someone to stay at the house with my three little fur babies.

When the sitter cancelled a month before our trip, my first response was, “I’m not going to be able to go on this trip.”

My husband looked at me like I’d grown an arm out of the middle of my forehead. “We’ll get someone else.”

But there’s no one.

Because I really want this person to adore cats as much as I do. And I want to be comfortable imagining them alone in my house.

Am I expecting too much?

Needless to say, I don’t recall ever thinking I would cancel a vacation to stay home with my kids. Maybe if they had been sick.
But one time, my youngest had a bad fall and got stitches two days before I was supposed to leave to join my husband in Washington, DC.

My mother was keeping our sons. She insisted that I go on the trip.

I’d like to say she really had to twist my arm. But she didn’t. I wanted to be convinced it was fine for me to leave my small children.

But these cats?

Plan B

“They do so much better when someone stays with them.”

It’s true.

I love cats for their independence. And my cats are as snooty as any Egyptian god or goddess.
But when we left them for a week and had my father-in-law check in on them daily, they pooped on the chair, destroyed a few items and sprayed my husband’s shoes.

It made coming home an instant relaxation reversal.

Another time, we had some neighbor kids come over and sit with them for a couple hours every day.

This time it was the bed that got used as a litter box. And the television and lights were left on. For how long we’ll never know.

So my husband’s plan to have the neighbor stop in daily to feed, water and clean their box wasn’t looking very pleasant.

Thankfully, my adult sons live nearby. Although they’d rather stay at their own place, they know and love the cats. It’s not too unreasonable for my youngest to commute from my house rather than his. He can even bring his cat (she loves playing with my cats).

As relief floods my chest when this plan comes together, I wonder, “What sort of person am I?”

Who worries more about leaving their cats alone than leaving their kids?

Although my kids were always with grandparents or other responsible adults.

Shouldn’t I want the same for my fur babies?

Maybe the relief I feel has more to do with coming home to no unwelcome presents.

That’s what I tell myself.

That and “You’re the best cat mother ever!”

What do you worry about when you go on vacation?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. Those reviews are the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Trifecta of Relaxation

What’s a vacation at a resort with at spa without a few spa treatments? Let me recommend a particular trifecta in the recipe for relaxation.

Worldmark at Indio has a plethora of activities for people of all ages. For women who think being pampered is a must on vacation, there is The Spa at Indio.

Usually, I’m tight with my money. After all, if I was trying to feed myself on those four “royalties only” writing contracts and that substitute teaching salary, I’d be lucky to get one meal each day.

But this is vacation.

It still took me an entire day to convince myself to splurge on some treatments.

In the end, I built a package of three treatments so I could get a ten percent discount on all of them. See? Frugal to the end.

Balancing Massage

I began my two-and-one-half hours of pampering with a therapeutic Swedish massage called “The Balance” in the spa’s brochure.

My esthetician, Lydia, lead me into a cozy room and told me to “undress to my level of comfort” but “less clothing” is best to receive maximum results from the treatments.

Before you could sing a verse of “Happy Birthday,” me and my birthday suit were lying face down on the massage table, covered in a fresh-smelling sheet and fluffy towel.

Lydia set the microwave to work. Soon weighted, heated packs were covering my shoulders, lower back and butt. She moved to my feet and began the manipulation.

Massage therapists and chiropractors are the only people authorized to manipulate me.

“Relax,” she says.

And I tried. I really did. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Lovely Lydia decided my neck and shoulders were made of steel cables. No matter how often she applied heat and pressure, nothing was converting them to molten lava.

It felt wonderful-even when my body screamed for mercy-and I was more relaxed in the end.

Elixir Hair Treatment

The second step in my trifecta of wonder was the one I was anticipating the most. If you’ve never had a thorough scalp massage, you don’t know what you’re missing.

She worked some sort of oil into my scalp and the back of my neck. The softening treatment she combed through my hair smelled of aloe and sage.

I was nearly asleep by the time this thirty minutes had passed.

Was it really that long? It seemed like it ended much too soon.

Renewing Facial

It’s been several years since I’ve had a facial. I used to get at least one per year, but then my regular income stopped, and the facials went the way of my monthly pedicures.

This was one of the best facials I’ve ever had.

The cleanser and exfoliation scrub brought me to a mango tree and suspended me in gleeful rapture. Citrus scents are among my favorite for body washes-and now facial cleansers.

The steam that accompanies a facial can become suffocating or borderline scalding. Not so at this spa. The constant infusion of warm air did nothing more than open my pores and carry the delicious fruit scent into my olfactory memory banks.

I was surprised when the extractions began. I didn’t think my 50 minute facial included them. Sometimes this process yanks me from floating on clouds and sends me to the stretching rack. As in torture (opposite of relaxation in every way).

Not this time. Yes, there were twinges on my forehead, brow line and nose when Lydia did her digging. They didn’t lift me from my fog of relaxation, though.

The only drawback to this service was that the mask that I had to wear for the last twenty minutes of the treatment wasn’t citrus flavored. In fact, it didn’t smell pleasant in the least. Heavy perfume smothered me.

If it wasn’t for the pleasant hand and foot massage occurring at the same time, this would have left a sour taste in my mouth. The stench was carefully massaged away, though, and the soft, suppleness of my glowing skin made me ignore the insult to my sensory fiesta.

In the end, I left a gratuity in the same amount as my discount.

Why not? The expense lost when weighed on the scales of price verses value. Money or positive attitude and physical benefits?

Somehow, I managed to wear the hair treatment until the following morning. Even with sunscreen and a hat, my tender nose managed to get reddened during my two-hour stint beside the pool.

Ah well. With such a trifecta of perfection, there had to be some negative side effects, right?

What is your ideal way to relax? Have you been to a spa? What’s your favorite treatment?

Vacation Days are NOT supposed to become Sick Leave

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take a week off from your job and only have positive memories? That’s what a vacation is supposed to be, right? Even if your company says all Paid Time Off is the same, you never equate vacation days to sick leave.

Unless you’re my husband.

I love the man, truly I do. You’ve heard me extol his virtues. He’s nicknamed Mr. Wonderful because he is indeed amazing.

However, he gets sick at the most inopportune moments.

Like his twenty-first birthday – before he had anything alcoholic to drink.

Or maybe when you’re in the car driving for five hours.

Even when you’re experiencing Sea World for the first time, the man is likely to get a turbulent tummy or woozy skull.

How about spending two days of a seven-day vacation flat on his back with flu-like symptoms? Sounds fun, right? Add to that the cherry of another day of inability to leave the room, and you have our Indio vacation.

It’s Vacation

Our friends suggested that perhaps hubby’s body was finally at rest enough to rebel for the constant travel of the past few months.

Maybe they exposed him to the flu-like virus that had plagued their local schools.

Airplanes are a hotbed of germiness, what with only recirculated air to breathe for hours on end.

We’ll never know why my spouse took sick on the vacation when his body could have used actual sick days if it had waited five more days.

It’s probably the fault of his employer. After all, they consider anything Paid Time Off-be it vacation or sick leave.

Sick Leave away from Home

Our Worldmark ownership provides us a home away from home. We’re not renting those condominiums we stay it, we own them. Sort of.

So, being sick at Worldmark Indio should have been tantamount to suffering illness at home. Right?

Wrong.

We didn’t have any medicine with us. The mini-market at the resort provided single doses of cold and flu meds for $2. And even though it was obvious he was burning with fever, I had no thermometer with which to measure the severity.

Even the water tasted wrong. Everyone knows you need to drink gallons of it when you’re sick. Flush out the virus and all that.

As much as we loved this resort, it wasn’t the place to experience severe illness.

Nurse or Playmate?

I was on vacation, too. Who did that leave to take care of the sick man?

“Go to the park,” my feverish husband whispered. The crud stole his voice along with his vitality. “I’m going to sleep all day. I’ll be fine.”

So I went.

One among many: a Joshua Tree in the park
One among many: a Joshua Tree in the park

Off to Joshua Tree National Park in the back seat of my friends’ rental car.

I was the worst nurse in history.

Of course, I’m not much better when I stay around to offer up medicine, liquids and bites of food.

The second day, he didn’t even pretend to feel like taking a shower. This was my spa day. But his eighteen holes of golf weren’t going to happen.

I’m an evil person. I didn’t think about him tossing and turning, drenched in the soft sheets on our king-sized bed once while enjoying my pampering.

I did offer to make him lunch and brought him medicine. I’d rushed out to the pharmacy to stock up on cough and cold medicine before I went to the spa. I happily doled out the doses now, doubling up on the amount of cough medicine because his wracking cough hurt me.

Then I went to the pool with my book.

Can't you feel the relaxation already?
Can’t you feel the relaxation already?

Now you know what sort of person I really am. The kind of person who attempts to stay on vacation when a twist of fate turns it into sick leave.

What would you have done? Stayed locked inside the condo when you chose the location so you could soak in the Vitamin D?

Consider this my official protest against PTO days that trick a vacation into becoming sick leave.

My Sunny Vacation Days

Let’s face it. I didn’t have a vacation in 2015, and after everything that befell me (mostly good), I deserve to have two in 2016. Come along with me on my second sunny vacation in three months.

I wrote a tad about how this vacation came about earlier.

In fact, my class reunion in July 2015 became the springboard for a jaunt to a resort we’ve been eyeing for ten years.

The Resort

Indio, California is about twenty miles south of the famed Palm Springs, vacation home to numerous celebrities.

The town proper includes everything you might want for a vacation. We bought groceries at a WinCo located a couple miles from our home base. There was also a pharmacy and numerous restaurants in that shopping center.

A few miles in the other direction, we found the rest of our supplies at a WalMart Supercenter.

Worldmark Indio is a gigantic place. Fifteen buildings, three or four stories tall, house various condominiums. There are two large pools situated at either end of the lovely green space on the back side of these stucco monsters.

Thirty-six greens and fairways circle most of the resort. Palms whisper overhead. Birds offer up early-morning catcalls. Duck families enjoy the central pond network.

Since it was Easter, bunnies even hopped around the place. (Actually, I’m sure they live there full-time.)

Two basketball courts and a double tennis court offer outdoor recreational opportunities. A large recreation center houses billiards, Ping Pong, air hockey and a dozen video games-even classics like Centipede and Space Invaders.

The pool nearest our room (which included two hot tubs, wading pool and swimming pool, also featured a lazy river. This is a winding path of water with its own current. You plop onto the provided tubes and let the river do the rest.

Joshua Tree National Park

Obviously, there was plenty to do at the resort. Especially if you’re like me and think the best vacation involves a lounge chair and a good book.

However, a number of national parks are nearby, and one of them features forests of Joshua Trees.

Don’t know what a Joshua Tree is? Let me help you out.

And it’s Spring, so the desert flowers are blooming. On our outlined plan of action for the week, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park was a must for three out of four of us.

This is what the itinerary looked like:
Monday: Hang out at Resort
Tuesday: Joshua Tree
Wednesday: Spa and 18 holes of golf
Thursday: Palm Springs
Friday: Pool Day

I planned to hike a few trails in the park, so I dressed in tennis shoes. My friends warned that it would be ten to fifteen degrees cooler in the park, so I should dress warmly or bring warm clothes.

We left at 9AM and returned around 7PM. Here are the photographic highlights of the day:

Laurel and me by the South entrance sign
Laurel and me by the South entrance sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

Us girls on the climb up Ryan Mountain
Us girls on the climb up Ryan Mountain
Proof I climbed the 1.5 miles and 1,000 feet
Proof I climbed the 1.5 miles and 1,000 feet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Living Desert I didn’t see

Come back on Thursday to hear the whole story, but the Thursday itinerary got an overhaul. Namely, only my friends went off to Palm Springs.

I’d been to The Living Desert-the local zoo-during our first trip to the area on our second honeymoon. I loved it and looked forward to a repeat.

After all, they had a baby giraffe now.

But I saw a real live desert on Tuesday and that was going to have to tide me over until my next trip this far south.

If you love dry sunny days, you should plan a trip to Indio (or Palm Springs or Palm Desert). I highly recommend using the traditional Spring Break timing for this trip. (In fact, a teacher I work with has been going there for a decade during Spring Break.)

The desert was in bloom, giving color to the brown canvas. Breezes cooled the high temperatures of 90 degrees to feel like a balmy, Hawaiian 75.

In fact, my husband enjoyed the location so much, he’s trying to convince our kids to take a family vacation there with us next year.

A sunny vacation is my ideal. What about you? What’s your ideal vacation getaway?

What to Do on a Rainy Day

When it rains…He snores

I live in Oregon. I’m used to rain. I’m used to pouring rain that shivers a body to the bones.

And I know all about the old man snoring (which has nothing to do with being an Oregonian, does it?)

What does this have to do with a Caribbean cruise you wonder?

Maybe nothing. Maybe I just thought the title looked catchy.

Or, it could have something to do with nap time on the ship.

One way to alleviate disappointment is to sleep it off. Seriously. Like a migraine or a hangover (not that I would know about those). Sleep is the best medicine.

And it helps a person stay awake for evening activities like karaoke, Love and Marriage and The Quest.

When it rains, he snores. In fact, she snores too.

Actually, neither of us snored, but we did sleep. In the twin beds magically joined to make a not-quite King-sized bed that took up the whole width of the stateroom.

First formal dinner. Yes, the bed takes up the whole room.
First formal dinner. Yes, the bed takes up the whole room.

And naps are good.

At first, I was irritated with myself. After all, I’m on a living ship chock full of interesting activities. Shouldn’t I be off enjoying them?

My reasonable self argued, “Isn’t this vacation?”

On vacation, a body should do what feels right at the moment. You know I’m a proponent of reading rather than running around. So why not go horizontal and let the brain do all the work?

And if it’s spitting rain? What else is there to do that’s half as relaxing?

So, yes, I’m guilty. While the Freedom of the Seas cut its way south and east across the Atlantic Ocean, my husband and I snoozed in our cabin. Even when the sun was shining.

After all, Oregon winter white skin can only take so many hours of exposure to tropical sunlight. After that, it’s begging for a nap.

Rain or shine, naps do a body good.

This Island of Disappointment

CocoCay_BahamasOne day into the vacations, and we’re supposed to spend our daylight on Royal Caribbean’s privately owned island. Instead, we dock at the Island of Disappointment.

If you’re from the Pacific Northwest, you understand there are places with such a name. Cape Disappointment for one. So named because Lewis and Clark didn’t find the harbor they were hoping to discover.

In the case of this cruise, the swells and winds made taking tenders ashore too dangerous. And we all want a cruise line who values our safety above everything else.

Except me. I wanted to go parasailing.

Lesson Learned

I should have went parasailing in Mexico. Sure, it would have left my oldest son all alone at the resort. Sure, I loved lounging by the pool and reading a book.

DSC_0080_20141215_1213

But, while the sunny poolside isn’t always available, the book is. Parasailing above tropical waterways, on the other hand, is a limited time opportunity.

On the cruise, we were told, “If you see something you love, buy it.”

Yeah, well, maybe if I won that billion dollar Powerball pot. Otherwise, my lesson is more usable in real life.

Take the opportunity that presents itself.

I’m sure another chance at parasailing over aquamarine seas of glass will come again. Although, I don’t know when. Not when the next vacations are for family and then Italy. Unless parasailing is available off the coast of the boot-shaped peninsula.

Another cruise might be in the works. Or a return to Hawaii. Mexico is likely to happen only as a stop on a cruise, I think.

When the window of opportunity cracks open, plunge through.

Replacement Activity

It wasn’t a pretty day. I did mention wind and swells renamed the island Disappointment, right?

We sat on deck for a short time. And wandered.

The cruise director hurriedly threw together a full day of entertainment – sort of entertaining.

But when you’re imagining sailing high above clear water and gazing into the depths, what else can measure up?

They were quick to credit our account. Great. That meant we shouldn’t owe much for our gratuities and the few on-board purchases.

It didn’t cause my heart to swell with delight.

Count this lesson learned. The next time parasailing is an option, I will say yes.

The Island of Disappointment isn’t a place to visit – especially not on vacation.

The Problem with Anticipation

Image from sweetauthoring.com

Anticipation. The tingle on your tongue as the triple chocolate pie is being sliced. Your brain fires all cylinders. You’re SO ready for that delectable deliciousness.

Anticipation. Time crawls. A teenager asked to clean his room. “Polar ice caps move faster,” you tell yourself.

Anticipation. Pleasure and pain.

If you’ve ever traveled internationally, you know a day can stretch beyond 24 hours. Maybe even double up making 48 tortuous segments of sixty minutes.

That’s how this day feels. The travel day from the left coast to the right, on my way to the first ever, long-awaited Caribbean cruise.

royal_advantage_freedom_ship_banner_944x435

It might be because it started at 2AM.

I wish I was kidding about this. The cat jumped up, dug at the covers and nudged my hand until I petted him. The sheets were stuck to my back (a common occurrence during my peri-menopausal sleep phases).

My brain kicked on. “Is it time to get up? Go to the airport? Head to the cruise?”

Who needs an alarm when they have a cat?

The problem with feline wakefulness, it only happens when you don’t want need it. The day you count on those kitty paws to get you to the airport on time, is the day the cats abandon you for the back of the recliner.

My husband rolls over, turns off his alarm. I crawl out of the damp sheets, hindered by the cat curled into the bend of my knee. She’s not impressed that I’m trying to get out of bed.

No traffic at 3 am means we make it to the airport in record time. We catch up to the airport shuttle near our favorite parking shelter, which means we miss the bus.

Delightful. This early, we shiver in the near 40 degree weather for fifteen minutes until the next one comes.

I try imagining myself on the deck of the cruise liner. With no former point of reference, this attempt at mind-over-matter warming fails.

Eventually we get to the terminal, check-in, leave our bags and head through security. A short line at four in the morning.

Coffee. Yogurt parfait. How am I going to hand them my boarding pass when both hands are busy with breakfast?

The first flight is a little over half full. My eyes are burning. I close them, hope for rest.

Drink service comes, and I’m wide awake. I give in after an hour of coaxing myself back to dream land and eat my breakfast.

I’ve been hot and shed my layers. Now I shiver and shrug back into the bright pink sweatshirt.

Sleep evades me.

The buzz in my head, only slightly louder than the pounding that says four hours of sleep is not enough, announces the mocha grande skinny has shifted into high gear.

Caffeine. I hate you right now.

Did I really need that shot of sweet goodness with all this anticipation fueling me? Probably not. Live and learn.

Check back here for more musings from my first time cruising over the next several weeks.

What were you anticipating the last time this fever struck?

Happy Cruising

For years – maybe since I saw the show Love Boat when I was just a kid – I’ve dreamed of going on a cruise. Specifically, a Caribbean cruise.

I’m starting off this new year with another fulfilled dream. Thank you to my wonderful husband who said “yes, book it” when I asked about this last April.

Don’t worry, my blog won’t go untended while I’m gone. And those memes about gratitude you’re already looking forward to have been pre-programmed into my Buffer queue. It will be business as usual around here.

Except I won’t be around here.

I’ll be on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea basking in all the natural Vitamin D my body can tolerate.

The Itinerary

We’re flying out of Portland the day before the cruise. This gets us to Florida in time to acclimate – and not be late for the bon voyage ceremony.

We have three ports of call in the Eastern Caribbean. Here’s the “official” itinerary:

Sun, Jan 10 – Depart Port Canaveral, FL
Mon, Jan 11 – CocoCay, Bahamas – 7AM to 4PM
Tues, Jan 12 – All day at sea (I’ll be reading by the pool!)
Wed, Jan 13 – St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands – Noon to 7PM
Thur, Jan 14 – St. Maarten – 8AM to 5PM
Fri, Jan 15 – Day at sea (Poolside drink service anyone?)
Sat, Jan 16 – Still floating on the Caribbean Sea (Guess what I’m doing?)
Sun, Jan 17 – Arrive in Port Canaveral, FL at 7AM

Let’s hope we won’t be greeted by snowy weather when we fly into Portland airport at midnight on January 18. Ugh.

Fingers crossed that I soaked up enough happy rays to get me through to the end of March. We’re heading to Palm Springs with friends for a week – their Spring break since he works for the school district.

Additional Plans

Ever since I went zip lining in Mexico, I’ve wanted to go again. This time over a lush, jungle canopy. I have no idea if that’s what I’ll get in The Bahamas or The Virgin Islands, but I’m going to ride the wire either way.

Adventure

Ever since I didn’t go para-sailing in Mexico, I’ve been kicking myself.

I won’t be missing my chance on this vacation. Floating high above turquoise waters with sunshine kissing my skin and a breeze nuzzling my face is on the agenda.

Except I don’t like to have an agenda. I’m on vacation!

The third port will offer us some sort of kayaking activity. My husband will probably find his way into some snorkeling, but I’d rather keep my face out of the water, thank you very much.

Don’t forget shopping. I’ll have to bring back souvenirs for my new daughters and those boys they married. Maybe even start my Christmas shopping.

It’s a new year, right? Anything is possible.

Happy cruising to me. You can expect to hear my take on the “Love Boat” phenomenon when I return.

Have you ever been on a cruise? If you could go cruising, what’s your dream destination?

Playing Tour Guide to a couple of Okies

Nothing like two tourists pretending to be tour guides. Seriously, doesn’t the Bible say something about the blind leading the blind and both of them falling in the ditch?

The good news is that no one ended up in the ditch on the recent jaunt north to Seattle. In fact, thanks to modern technology, we didn’t even get lost. Not in the dark. Not when streets were closed in the direction we were heading.

Why Seattle

My cousin was visiting for the dreaded family reunion I wrote about last week. His new wife hadn’t been to the West Coast in many years. She wanted to see three things: Mt. Hood, the Pacific Ocean and Seattle.

Like the good hostess I am, I delivered her wishes. (What does that look mean, Darrin?)

I’ve been to Seattle exactly three times in my life (after this trip). Both times it was an overnight venture to attend a company Christmas party. I worked in the Portland office of a brokerage and the main office was in Seattle.

I ate breakfast in the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle (only because the salesman I worked with was buying – otherwise OUCH). We had a fancy dinner at Canlis.

Seattle has an interesting culture. The marketplace along the waterfront (it abuts the Puget Sound) has been included in popular novels and movies.

I walked its streets after dark and didn’t feel threatened. Of course, I was in the ten blocks between the Space Needle and the Hilton hotel. And I had two men with me.

Where in Seattle

We arrived on Sunday night. After we checked into the hotel, the handy GPS mapping app told us we could walk to the Space Needle in 23 minutes.

So we did. It may have taken more than 23 minutes. We had to stop along the way for selfies. There were a few closed sidewalks, causing us to weave across the street like headless chickens.

And there was a crush of people going up the Space Needle.

Fortunately, we’d purchased our tickets online so we didn’t have to wait in the Disney-esque line of tourists.

Have you noticed that everywhere you go they take pictures of you? “Care to have a free photograph taken?” was the line used during the Space Needle trip.

No charge to take it, sure. If we wanted to leave with a copy in our hands? A different price tag applied.

It takes 41 seconds to get to the viewing deck of the needle in the elevator. The elevator man told us this.

The views as the sun sank on the horizon improved as the city lit beneath us. It was worth the walk, wait and money.

Afterward we headed to a nearby pizza place and ate a wonderful Greek salad and delicious pizza. It was handcrafted and the sauce was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy.

Hubby and Me with the peninsula in the background
Hubby and Me with the peninsula in the background

On Monday morning, our handy mapping app informed us it was an eleven minute walk to Pikes Place Market. So off we went.

First, we headed onto the waterfront for a ride on the Seattle Wheel (think London Eye). Nice views and some good photo ops here.

We wandered through some shops, burning time. My cousin’s wife had heard Ivar’s had the best seafood in Seattle, and it was located near the wheel.

Truthfully, I’ve had better fish and chips on the Oregon coast. Since our server got sidetracked, we got free dessert. Chocolate cake and cheesecake – both get As.

It was an uphill trek to the alley where we witnessed a disgusting landmark – the Gum Wall. My artistic side appreciated the finesse with which some people had left their mark there. The rest of me? Shivered in revulsion at the thought of all that chewed gum in one location.

We spent time at the fish market. It’s here that whole fish are tossed around when they’re purchased. It’s pretty entertaining. Those guys have to be showmen – as well as strong enough to heft a sizable sturgeon.

More shop browsing. A casual walk back to our hotel, where we’d left our car safely ensconced in the $42 overnight parking garage (gotta love those downtown parking rates).

Have you been to Seattle? What sites would you recommend for our next round of tourist-as-tour-guide?

Zip lining Adventure

When we traveled to Mexico, I had only two three items on my wish list. It should be easy enough to satisfy three small things, right? And zip lining topped the list.

Okay, it was second on the list.

The list:

  1. Bask in the sunshine
  2. Zip-line
  3. Sunset cruise

Fortunately, everyone shared my adventurous spirit. And there was a discount (of $30 per person), so I took that as a sign from Heaven (Aren’t coupons God’s express permission to purchase an item?)

After a fair amount of grumbling from the kids about having to wake up early, we settled on a day and time. A bus would pick us up at 8:15 and transport us to our adventure. It would start at 9 am and end around noon.

The only instructions we received ahead of time: wear tennis shoes and comfortable clothes. No one told us we would have to leave our cameras behind. After all, the main reason I wanted my husband to have a Go-Pro was to catch this action on film.

Instead, we have still photos taken by the “guides” (and purchased for no small amount) and only our brain’s recollection for moving pictures. So, I’ll do my best to share that here.

IMG_0452The guides were a hoot-and-a-half. By the end of the day, I wondered how many times every day they repeated the same quips. You can be sure a portion of our gratuity was thanks to their delightful acting skills.

Our adventure included ten zip lines and rappelling down a 180-foot rock wall (which was optional). Honestly, the chance to rappel is what made me choose this company over the one with “the longest zip line in Mexico.”

First we needed the gear. This involved an attractive liner tied over our hair under an equally attractive helmet. Most important was the web belt with the solid ropes to clip onto the pulley (which we carried for the next two hours) and zip line.

The safety briefing and instructions spotlighted the silly sides of four of the six guides going with us on this adventure. Can you really get a class in how to ride your pulley with the line is not even six feet long? “Shortest zip-line ever” is my title for it.

DSC_9592The reason for the solid walking shoes became immediately evident. We wound up a narrow rocky trail to a short metal wire spanning maybe 50 feet.

“Lie back and scream like you’re happy.”

Yep. Those were the man’s exact instructions. He may have mentioned something about keeping your knees bent to your chest and not straightening your legs unless you wanted your ankles broken like Kathy Bates’ prisoner in Misery.

It was over before I got the “Geronimo” out of my mouth. (That’s my happy yell. It’s named after an attraction at the OKC theme park.)

I don’t think my heart had time to pick up its speed.

We walked up a longer path to the first “real” zip line. After all, we have to get up high if we want it to be exciting. In the end, I think my heart rate was elevated more by the hiking than the all-too-brief zips along the wires.

My oldest zipping along - having a good time
My oldest zipping along – having a good time

It was fun. I enjoyed watching my kids having a blast, but it wasn’t the thrill ride I was expecting. Maybe it’s because we were never more than 500 feet above the ground. Or that the longest ride was 1500 feet and it took less than 30 seconds to complete.

The best part for me came after all but two zip lines had been conquered. Yes, the 180-foot rappel.

I tried indoor rock climbing once. Mostly because I wanted to rappel. I enjoyed the climbing, but zinging down the smoking rope brought the biggest smile to my face.

My drill sergeant would have been proud. I didn’t even balk when I backed over the edge of the platform (the scariest moment atop Victory Tower). The guy on the ground did his job belaying me a bit too well, so I didn’t get to fly down like I hoped.

Could my smile get any wider?
Could my smile get any wider?

From the platform, there was about forty feet where the wall was too far beneath to reach. So I spent some time dangling with nothing to push off from.

“Release your left hand,” the guide kept telling me.

It was released, but my belayer wasn’t letting me move. See? There’s no danger involved in this sport.

I was smiling at the bottom. The last zip line was a race – my husband won – and anti-climactic after the wall.

I was the only one asking if I could go again. What’s wrong with those people who didn’t do it? I should have been allowed to take their place, right?

If you’re afraid of heights, that’s not a big deal. You don’t have to look down when you zip line. You’re lying on your back.

If you can look around though, you’ll get a great view of whatever’s beneath you. For about five seconds. Because then the ride’s over.

So the next time you’re watching the Amazing Race and thinking, “That would be so scary” as they zip line a few thousand feet, don’t.

It might be a rush – or a thrill – but being dropped from a hundred feet with only a bungee cord to stop you is much more frightening.

Have you been zip lining? Bungee jumping? What is the scariest thing you’ve done? What is something you thought would be scary that turned out to be nothing?