Suck it, 2009!

Toodle-loo, 2009! It’s time you moved on. Based on my regular reading of MSNBC.com, it appears that most of the world had a sucky 2009. But I have to say, mine was pretty good. I had some adventures, moved to Portland, got a new job, made new friends. All good things, right? The only bad thing was that I didn’t blog nearly as often as I would’ve liked (ok, so it wasn’t the *only* bad thing), which is probably more of an impact on my disappointed loyal readers than anything else. Could that be the main reason that 2009 sucked for so many of you? If so, I’m terribly terribly sorry. I will try to make it up to you.

And to that effect, let’s just say that things are gonna change around here at A Very Marcilicious Blog. 2010 is gonna be BIG! I can feel it…it’s getting bigger already. The postings will be more frequent and more feisty. The pictures will be more scintillating and scandalous. The links will be more poignant and procrastination-friendly. There might even be a poll or two. And hell…there might just be another blog. Yup – I’m starting to think about another blog highlighting my adventures in online dating, which will be at least as entertaining as the New and Improved 2010 Marcilicious Blog. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, enjoy some newish pictures, which I’ve provided as slide shows to the right. If you’re reading this some time in the future and are thinking that the slide shows are not the ones mentioned here, click these links: Halloween in White Salmon and Christmas in Portland. Good times, everyone, good times. See you on the flip side!

Last Post of 2008! For Real This Time!!!

Lest you think that 2008 was totally in the toilet (see previous post), I thought I’d share a few more photos with you. I got a really great surprise today when I received a CD in the mail from Cecily (thanks, Cecily!!!), who compiled all the photos she took on our trip to the Chiricahuas over Thanksgiving. I’ll probably try to upload them to a Picasa web album sometime, but here are just a few of the photos that I thought were particularly funny or had incredible scenery. So happy new year, for real this time!

Thanksgiving dinner at a truck stop – bad pizza and rootbeer floats!

So this is what I look like first thing in the morning? I’d just crawled out of the tent after our first night backpacking in the wilderness area; yes, that’s ice in my hair.

One of the many spectacular views of the Chiricahua wilderness; this was just before we somehow managed to get ourselves off-trail. I wish I knew how to use the self-timer on *my* camera!

You can’t see it in the photo (how clever…), but Cecily’s ankle is totally jacked up! At this point, we were enjoying the views at the Chiricahua National Monument, which were accessible a short distance from the car.

Thanksgiving in the Chiricahuas

Since I don’t consider Thanksgiving to be one of my favorite holidays, I decided it would be a good time to get out of town for an outdoor mini-adventure. My friend Cecily, from grad school, flew into Phoenix where I drove to pick her up. We had the best Thanksgiving dinner ever – bad pizza and rootbeer floats at a truckstop outside of Tucson. Afterwards, we drove around FOREVER trying to find the Forest Service lands that we were told about so that we could camp for the night – finally, we found the turnoff for French Joe Canyon and set up for the night.

It turns out that our campsite was just next to Karchner Caverns State Park, which we explored the next day. It’s a pretty cool state park – it’s got a good museum and gift shop, although their coffee wasn’t the best. We took a tour of the Rotunda and Throne Rooms, where we saw Kubla Kahn, the biggest column known in the state of Arizona. It was pretty spectacular, although I can’t show you any pictures because there were no cameras allowed. Bummer for you!

After that, we drove east through Willcox, then took a forest service road through the Chiricahuas to the South Fork of the Cave Creek trail, just west of Portal. We hit the trailhead around 2:30, so it was a bit late; just before we got on the trail, a man approached us to tell us to be careful of all the illegal immigrants and drug smugglers coming through the area. Thanks, dude! After about a mile and a half, we turned off the Cave Creek trail and onto the Burro trail, which took us up and to the east. We didn’t get terribly far that first day because we got a late start; also, we needed to take advantage of the first flat spot we found in order to set up a tent. By the way, I need to thank my friend Glen for loaning me a bunch of ultralight equipment which reduced 20 lbs off my pack load. So if you’re in the market for a new pack or tent, go to his website, Gossamer Gear, to check out the goods!

Anyway, it was clear that others had used the same spot we found, since there were water bottles and toilet paper scattered around the perimeter of our site. I cooked up some yummy pad thai and Cecily started a fire to let all the smugglers know that we were there and not to bother us. It was a rather cold night – I didn’t get a lot of sleep because 1) I was listening for drug smugglers emerging from their hiding spots to steal our food (which they didn’t), 2) Cecily snores, and 3) it was freaking cold. We woke up to a sheet of ice on the inside of our tent, frost on our sleeping bags, and I even had frost in my hair! But a hot meal of oatmeal and peanuts and cranberries and tea warmed us up pretty good, at least while we waited for the sun to come out.

We continued on our way, up up and up the trail – and the views just kept getting more and more spectacular. We watched flocks of band-tailed pidgeons fly around below us. There were incredible rock outcrops all over the place. And the sun was out, which was in contrast from the days before. We hit Horseshoe Saddle at around noon, and there was lots of evidence that illegals had been coming through – water bottles, clothes, discarded packs, food containers, and even syringes. And unfortunately, because there was so much activity, a lot of social trails had been created, which were in fact more evident than the official trail we were trying to follow. So, at around 8000 feet, we ended up losing our trail and hiking down several fake-out trails that led us into a steep drainage.

We started bushwhacking our way down the drainage, which we knew would take us back to Cave Creek and the original trail that we were on. In my estimation, given the amount of shit in the drainage, there were approximately 359 bears in the vicinity, in addition to the drug smugglers which were surely hunkered down waiting for nightfall. Cecily and I scaled several bouldered drop-offs with few problems, but our luck didn’t last forever; Cecily fell down a 15-foot rock face and sprained her ankle really badly. But she was hard-core and didn’t cry or anything; we taped her ankle up, loaded her up with ibuprofin, and I gave her my hiking pole to hobble along on. We were only about halfway down the drainage at that point and it was starting to get dark and cold, and there was definitely no place to camp, so we decided to just try and get out that evening. I had to go ahead of Cecily and try to find the best way down the canyon drainage, which still had several rocky drops before we hit Cave Creek around dusk. But we were so happy to hear that running water!
We didn’t find the trail right away and hiked up the opposite side of the creek until I decided we needed to go back down to the creek where we would definitely find the trail at some point. Which we did – Cecily ended up hiking about 3 miles on her bum ankle, but with head-lamps and hiking poles, we made it to the car and set up camp at the Sunny Flat forest service campground. Whew! It was a good thing that Cecily brought some Vicodin with her…
The next morning, we drove back over the mountains to the Chiricahua National Monument, where the medic/ranger wrapped Cecily’s humongously swollen ankle up and provided her with ice packs and an airsplint. We drove through the monument and took in the amazing views at Massai Point. Finally, we drove back through Willcox and into Benson, where we ate a huge dinner at Apple Farm restaurant, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The mashed potatoes were AWESOME!!! I felt like I was going to have a food baby.

We then drove back to French Joe Canyon and camped at the same spot as our first night – but this time we started a fire (with a little help from a bit of denatured alcohol, thanks) and had smores. Yummy! The following morning, we went back to our Thanksgiving day truckstop and paid $5 each for a shower. This was the first time I’ve ever had a truckstop shower, and it’s not nearly as dirty as it sounds. It was actually quite refreshing – I even managed to comb the emergent dread-locks out of my hair that had started to form during the past few days. Then, it was back to Phoenix to drop Cecily off at the airport, and then back to San Diego.
It was really a fun trip, all minor injuries aside. It was great being outside and getting my mind completely off of work for a few days, although I wish the trip could have been a little longer. I have more pictures that you can view through the slideshow link on the right side of my blog, and Cecily will be sending me her pictures as well, so there will probably be even more photos soon. It was a good Thanksgiving – even if there wasn’t any cranberry sauce involved!

Christmas in Camas

I flew up to Portland for Christmas this year to spend the holiday with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law. I stayed with Mom, who lives in a really cute house in Camas, Washington. Camas is home to a huge Georgia Pacific paper factory, or as it appeared to me, a tree crematorium. Paul and Anne live across the river in Portland, and they came over to open presents Christmas morning. Lots of presents. I think I like giving presents better than receiving them, especially when I get to give presents to the fetus that is nestled in Anne’s tummy right now. I gave the fetus a black one-piece outfit that says “ABCD: for those about to read we salute you”. Awesome. It snowed a little on Christmas day, but was otherwise gray, dark, rainy and cold. Huh – who would have thought that winter in the Pacific Northwest could be so dreary? I enjoyed sitting on the couch by the fireplace during most of my visit, staying warm and dry. Here are some pictures to enjoy!

Christmas Eve – yup, that’s a pink tree, and “A Christmas Story” on the TV behind it.

A very bad picture of me, but clearly Mom’s cat (Leo) and I bonded during my visit.

Below, Bailey savors the remains of his stuffed turkey, destroyed and eviscerated within 15 minutes of presentation.

Halloween Pictures at Last!

It was a strange Halloween. I think the fires had a lot to do with it – I didn’t decorate my house like I did last year, and I only got four groups of kids at my door. The good thing was that I didn’t have any groups of little thugs this year, the bad thing was that I had a whole lot of candy left over. Anyway, a few people still got dressed up at work, me included. I was a tiger…grrr! And, I still put decorations up in my office. It’s weird doing Halloween in SoCal – the weather was so warm, and it just doesn’t feel like autumn, and that things are dying or going to sleep for winter. At any rate, here are some pictures – enjoy!

My office was very spooky. Besides the Halloween decorations, there are lots of project files and piles of papers that have yet to be addressed. Boo!

Cara, me, and Heidi (above).

My downstairs neighbor went a little nuts. When I came home from work, a gigantic pumpkin was leering at me, and all those skeletons? Yup, motion-activated cackling is what I was listening to all night long.

I’m on it this year!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is seeing a tree completely loaded with gorgeously wrapped presents underneath. And wow, am I on top of things this year. I’ve finished my holiday shopping! I’ve wrapped everything! I’m mailing stuff out today!  There is, however, one problem. You see, all those lovely presents under my little pink tree are for other people. Not one present is for me! So what gives, homies? Where are my presents??? Let’s get with it, people! Time to show me some love…

 

Dia de Los Muertos!

I love Halloween – it’s undoubtedly one of my favorite holidays. Unfortunately for Teddy Bear, it’s one of his least favorite holidays because 1) he’s not allowed to eat any candy, and 2) I get to dress him up in fun costumes. This year, he participated as Darth Teddy. It was either that, or I cover up his cone and the rest of his body with aluminum foil so that he could enjoy the holiday as a satellite dish. I figured he’d disagree with the former idea a little less, so we went with that one (by the way, Teddy just got his stitches out and is now cone-free). I managed to cobble together a pretty decent pirate costume together at the last minute, mostly from pieces gathered from my closet (hmmmm…). I wore it to work – about ten or so people dressed up for Halloween, and everyone else just laughed and pointed fingers. Oh well – I had fun. We also got a TON of trick-or-treaters – hardly any candy left at all!!! Which means that I won’t feel *too* guilty finishing off the leftovers. I hope you had a great All Hallows too!