Westward Ho

Name:
Location: Lander, Wyoming, United States

I'm just a western boy living the good life and enjoying every minute of it.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

POKES WIN! POKES WIN! POKES WIN!

That's right folks. My alma mater, the University of Wyoming has pulled off the biggest upset of the college football bowl season so far this year. My lovable Pokes were 14 point underdogs to the intimidating UCLA Bruins at the Las Vegas Bowl. The Cowboys played them close the whole game, and near the end, I was thinking, "Well, at least they didn't embarass themselves." Not only did they not embarass themselves, they put together one of the most exciting finishes in Cowboy history. No one, and I mean no one gave them a chance to win this game. It has been 10 years since the Pokes have been to a bowl game, and almost 40 years since they've won one. That is all history now. Thank the heavenly Lord, we are bowl champions!!!!!

Warning...Extreme Goofiness Ahead

I love hockey. Many of my office-mates also love hockey. We are all upset and saddened at the current NHL lockout. I mentioned in a previous post that to deal with our loss, we have created a new hockey league, the NAHL (Northern Alliance Hockey League). The league has ten teams, all fake, but from real cities. We have developed a schedule, and the teams "play" against each other using dice to determine the scores. Therefore, it is completely random. To expand on this idea, we have decided to create rosters for each team, giving them two scoring lines, two pairs of defensemen, two goalies, a coach, and an arena. Keep in mind, this is purely a creative outlet incorporating a sport we love and miss. I am in charge of putting together three rosters. I have finished my first roster, the Chilliwack Slashers (Chilliwack is a town near Vancouver, British Columbia). As my Christmas gift to you readers, I will include it here. No, I was not high or drunk when I made this roster, just really creative. Enjoy.

CHILLIWACK SLASHERS

Home Ice
Hell Frozen Over Ice Arena – entrance ways have an archway with skull and crossbones overhead; the Grim Reaper, carrying a large scythe, guards the entrance

Coach
Franco Bullshevitz – Once ran out onto the ice while coaching the Selkirk Fjords of the Frigid North League to pummel a referee who had called a penalty for too many men on the ice during a brawl

First Line
LW – Gars Gooper #8 Prior to hockey, Gars manned a fishing boat off the coast of British Columbia. Rumored to have thrown a coworker overboard during an argument about whether Mighty Mouse could win a fight with Superdog.

C – Zippy Slitherin #2 Zippy has been named “fastest skater in the NAHL” for the last two years. He developed his breakaway speed and spin moves through his many years of being a petty theft and always being on the run.

RW – Buzz Kill #50 Grew up in Vanderhoof, British Columbia. When he turned 14, he was put to work as a logger. He became adept at carving a hockey stick out of a piece of lumber, making the blade of the stick sharp enough to cut through sheet metal.

D – Matthias Grunveldt #38 Has been incarcerated twice for public indecency while showing off his “junior hockey player”. He’s the “ladies man” of the Slashers with his long, flowing golden hair. Wears false teeth because he has no originals left after many years of fighting.

D – Yendl Kjholdyn #15 Last name pronounced “holdin”, which is the defensive style he employs. Yendl grew up on a sheep farm on the northern banks of the Hudson Bay, near Igluligaarjuk, Nunavut. Has never been married but has had many sheep friends.

G – Rolly Toes #90 Lifetime fan of the Milwaukee Brewers. Drinks Schlitz beer. Lots of it.


Second Line
LW – Jed “The Rat” Ratterink # 22 Leads the NAHL consistently in taking blocked shots to the face, often breaking his nose further out of place, giving him the look of a rat. Played junior hockey with the St-Alexis-Des-Monts Berets.

C – Klaus Hurfennurfen #19 Born in International Falls, Minnesota two weeks after his parents immigrated from Hamburg, Germany. Home schooled, so the only English he knows are swear words and what he learned from watching “Happy Days”. Has two German Shepherds named Joanie and Chachi.

RW – Claude Lefontanalaisee #91 Nicknamed “The French Tickler” because after he has dropped an opposing player with a cheap shot, he tickles their chin. Also the practical joker in the locker room. Often pees in teammates’ water bottles.

D – Bubba Blatto #34 Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. Frequently jumps into the stands to fight with drunk fans. Often uses the hog wrestling techniques during fighting that he learned on the farm back home. Bathes once a month.

D – Brainard Blatto #35 Kid brother of Bubba. Brainard is the mild mannered one of the two. He was acquitted of attempted murder with a hockey stick in 2003 on a technicality.

G – Felix Fisticuffs #5 Grew up in Kamloops, British Columbia. Has been known to drop the gloves to take on an opposing player while guarding the net at the same time. Has broken both hands on numerous occasions trying to stop the puck with no gloves. Can no longer write his own name.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Griswold Family Christmas Tradition

"We're not going out in the middle of nowhere just so you can buy one of those stupid ties with a Santa Claus on it, are we?" Rusty Grizwold's question to dad, Clark, in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was answered in the negatory. The Grizwolds were heading out to cut down the family Christmas tree. After watching this favorite Christmas movie recently for perhaps the 50th enjoyable time, I decided to partake in the same event. Anyone can go buy a plastic, full-figured fake tree or pay a buttload for a real tree at a lot. However, for $8 (for a tree cutting permit), a pair of warm, waterproof boots, and a durable saw, you can have a memorable experience of cutting your own! With this philosophy and an $8 permit in hand, Melissa, myself and Gunner (the happy Springer Spaniel) loaded up the Jeep and drove 7 miles to the National Forest boundary. As we hiked up the switch backs of the nearest Forest Service Road, we kept our eye open for the perfect tree. If you've seen Christmas Vacation, you know the perfect tree is surrounded by a glowing white, sparkling light, as if God sent this tree from heaven. Let me make this clear, to find the perfect, full-figured, straight tree, you would likely need to hike well into the hills with a week's worth of food. After figuring this out, we pressed on, in search of the not-so-perfect-but-still-pretty-cool tree. In the movie, Rusty tells his dad, "That tree wouldn't fit in our yard." To which Chevy Chase responds, "It's not going in our yard, Russ. It's going in our house." That part of the movie reminded me to bring a tape measurer. So we finally settled on a tree, about 6 feet tall, evenly spread out branches with few branches in the back (that's all right...we'll put that side towards the corner). After coaxing Gunner back down the hill (he's such a wuss when he get's snowy paws), we realized the tree was too short to tie to the top of the Jeep. Interesting dilemma. We finally decided that the tree would have to go into the backseat, and Gunner, a good-sized Springer, would have to ride on Melissa's lap in the cramped front seat of the Jeep.

Upon return to my apartment, it was time to put the tree in the stand. If you've never tried to put a live, non-perfect tree into a stand and make it stand up straight, then you've never cursed at a tree before. Remember the back side of the tree with few branches? Apparently, the laws of physics didn't come to mind when selecting the tree. The front of the tree, with its many nice, thick branches, seemed to weigh quite a bit more than the back side of the tree. Imagine that! After struggling with the whole balance issue, I finally gave up. After all, it was my birthday, and I wasn't about to let a stupid tree ruin my birthday. The next day, as if the tree had given up its fight, I got it to balance on the first try. We decorated it beautifully, yet cautiously as to not wake it back into its unbalanced stubbornness. It now stands in the corner, in all its glory. I am happy to say that it was a memorable experience, and I am enjoying the tree that much more, knowing we did the work to bring it in my home. Clark Griswold would be proud.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Milestone Birthday

Well, it is quickly approaching. The slower you want time to move, the quicker it goes. In three days, I will be hitting one of those milestone birthdays...the big 3-0. I will no longer be able to say, "I'm in my 20's". I will no longer be able to check the "20-29" box on those public interest surveys or product registration cards. An aged coworker told me today that he felt he was just hitting his stride at 30. I admit that I feel that same way. Everything is going well for me right now. I have the greatest job that I could have. I have an absolutely wonderful girlfriend. I live in a town that I love. I'm finally shopping for my first house. I am most certainly hitting my stride. Admittedly, I was worried about what happens on the back side of the stride. Is it all downhill from there? Well, as it turns out, it's not much of a worry. All I need to do is look at my older coworkers, family and friends. I see how much they are enjoying life, how happy they are. Life should not revolve around age. It should revolve around your happiness with life. As long as you enjoy what you're doing and how you're living your life, it really doesn't matter how old you are. I'm turning 30 in a few days. So what? I'm happier than I've ever been.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Sailing the Ocean Blue - Part 3 (From Beginning to End)

It's always so tough to come back after being on a wonderful vacation. Sure, we have to get back to normal life so we can go to work and pay our bills. But come along as I take a trip through the events of the past week and a half of my life. I'm still on vacation as long as my mind is still there.

Friday, Nov. 26
Melissa and I left for Salt Lake City. The roads were clear (an absolute blessing in Wyoming in late November), and the travel was easy. And believe it or not, we didn't forget to pack one thing! We checked into the Salt Lake City Airport Hilton, which I am proud to say I worked a wonderful deal on Priceline.com. Get this, $45 at the Hilton, which includes free parking for the duration of your trip and a shuttle to the airport. I would have spent more than $45 on the airport parking alone! Gotta love Priceline. Friday evening was spent Christmas shopping in downtown Salt Lake City. Once you get past all the Mormon references, it's actually a pretty cool city.

Saturday, Nov. 27
Quick trip to REI (greatest store ever), and then we were on our way to the airport. Arrived in New Orleans Saturday evening. We had dinner with Melissa's parents and some of their friends at P.F. Chang.

Sunday, Nov. 28
Melissa, her dad and I have breakfast at The Broken Egg in Mandeville, Louisiana, where Melissa's parents live. A trip into New Orleans includes a visit to Harrahs Casino, the aquarium, and of course, the French Quarter. I can see why that place gets crazy for Mardi Gras. I had shrimp gumbo for lunch (excellent). Dinner at a cool restaurant called Houston's.

Monday, Nov. 29
Board the M.S. Carnival Sensation at 1:00pm. Talk about overwhelming! First time on a cruise ship is like the first time you visit Vegas. Sensory overload. After having lunch at the buffet and touring the massive ship, we go through a boat drill that shows us what to do in case of an emergency. Oh, appropriately enough, as we walk through the doors to enter the ship, a band is playing the theme to Titanic. We push off at 4:00pm, where the ship manuevers the bends of the Mississippi River on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Excellent dinner in the ship's dining room with a fun waiter from Jamaica named Denton. His assistant, Vlado, says "Yur velcome" in a Russian voice everytime we thank him, which we get a kick out of throughout the entire cuise. We spend the rest of the evening touring the boat. I lose $60 on the craps table in less than 10 minutes. I do not gamble the rest of the cruise.

Tuesday, Nov. 30
This day has been designated as a "Fun Day at Sea". The ship is cruising through the Gulf on its way to Mexico. The weather is beautiful, so we spend time at the pool and watch some of the many activites going on around the boat. The cruise directors do a great job of planning all varieties of activities. The only bad thing is that it makes the day go by too quickly because you're having so much fun. Dinner is part of the "Captain's Ball", so everyone dresses up (including us) in their finest and has a wonderful meal. I had the lobster tail. The evening ends with a Las Vegas style show in the ship's huge stadium-seating auditorium.

Wednesday, Dec. 1
Arrive in the port of Calica! This is about one hour south of Cancun. The previous day, we had turned in our choices for port activities, and we had found out that our first choices were all accepted. When we disembark at Calica, Melissa and I head to the van labeled "5 Star Kayak Adventure". Boy am I glad we picked this excursion. We proceeded to Tres Rios (Three Rivers) Ecological Park near Playa del Carmen. We were given a tour of the park and instructions not to touch the chechem tree. This is a tree that secretes an acidic resin that will give you second degree burns. After biking one mile down to the ocean on really old bicycles, we loaded up into 2-man kayaks. Melissa and I made a pretty good team, and we got the paddling rythym down pretty quick. We kayaked out into the ocean, then into a mangrove estuary. After paddling around, our guide gave us the stop-and-shut-up signal. Ahead, about 50 feet away, were crocodile eyes peering out of the water. Crocs are apparently very skiddish, and it didn't take him long to disappear. We kayaked out of the estuary and up a nearby river. Then, we left the kayaks on the beach and bicycled back up one of the paths. We donned snorkeling gear and jumped into a limestone spring. Without swimming or paddling, the spring carried us downstream to the ocean on a 30-minute snorkeling trip. Absolutely amazing. We saw an eel, crabs, and numerous very large fish. We were then fed a tasty Mexican lunch and then spent some time relaxing in hammocks on the beach. After a return to the ship, we took a cab back into Playa del Carmen to do some shopping and had dinner at Senor Frog's. The Mexican merchants can be quite pushy, but it was entertaining. I picked up a couple nicknames from the merchants - Senor Whisker and Mr. Cigar. The cigar reference came about because I was smoking a genuine Cuban... legal in Mexico, not in the States. Talk about a head trip! We returned to the ship with a few souveniers and caught a magic act in the auditorium.

Thursday, Dec. 2
Through the night we sailed to the island of Cozumel. This morning, we took a bus tour of the island and did some shopping in the city. We were excited about our afternoon excursion, "Sea Trek Helmet Diving". However, the build-up was better than the actual excursion. The idea was really cool. We were given air-supplied helmets so we could walk around on the floor of the ocean without scuba gear. It would have been a lot of fun, but they only kept us down there for 15 minutes instead of the 30 minutes advertised, and they spent most of that time trying to get us to pose for pictures that they would try to sell us later. When we were finished, instead of looking at the cheesy pictures, we took advantage of the free snorkeling equipment and ended up seeing way more than we did on the helmet dive. They weren't happy that we didn't buy a picture, but we weren't happy with the tour, so it balanced out. Back on ship, we enjoyed another wonderful meal in the dining room with our buddies Denton and Vlado. They even made us join their congo line when the music started up during dinner!

Friday, Dec. 3
This was another "Fun Day at Sea" as we cruised back across the Gulf of Mexico towards New Orleans. Again, there were many fun activities to watch and take part in, including the cruise ship versions of Fear Factor, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Newlywed Game, and Love, Sex and Romance trivia. They had a "Hairy Chest Contest" which Melissa encouraged me to join (I did not, however, succumb to the pressure). My chest is not lacking of hair by any means, but believe me, there's no way I would have won that contest if I had been in it. There were some serious carpets up there. It provided some serious comedy though as each man had to dance sexy to music for two judges (who happened to be old grandmas also on the cruise). The day went by quickly, and we had our final dinner with Denton and Vlados (yur velcome). They had a great Christmas show in the auditorium to finish it off.

Saturday, Dec. 4
We had our final meal (the breakfast buffet) and disembarked at 9:00am. Melissa's parents picked us up, and we went back to their home in Mandeville (much to the enjoyment of their plump doggies, Maddy and Tamyn). My afternoon was spent on an absolutely beautiful golf course with Melissa's dad, while she and her mom went shopping. We had a great meal at a typical Louisiana riverfront restaurant and settled in for our last night down south.

Sunday, Dec. 5
We left New Orleans at 8:50 in the morning and after some more roaming around Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, were back in snowy Lander by 10:00 that evening. Sixteen inches of new snow fell in Lander while we were gone. As I sit here, surrounded by the signs of winter and Christmas, I will always remember our wonderful trip to New Orleans and the Caribbean. Memories are one of the greatest things a person can treasure, and no one can take those away.