I'm Back....

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Hey everyone,

Thanks for your concern about my sudden disappearance. Fortunately, nothing untoward has happened to me. Unfortunately, my hard drive decided to self destruct. Fortunately, I had most everything backed up on DVDs. Unfortunately, it's just been a very long tedious process restoring everything.

But I'm back now, my shoulder is doing better, I'm about to start rehab, and hopefully I'm on track for the lifting of all restrictions on July 15th!

I'll be back to regular posting tonight or tomorrow morning.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring.

Housekeeping....

Just a couple of quick updates everyone!

1. This week's Guest Blogging Series Will conclude with an awesome post by Utenzi later tonight. Dave sent me some awesome pictures to go with the post that I am having trouble resizing, otherwise the post would have been up by now.

2. Thank you very much to the round of current bidders: Utenzi, Gidget, Winged Emotion, and the Fifth Column! I hope you'll bid again. I chose Laci and the Long, Slow, Beautiful Dance this week because she has patiently bid three times now and, well, it was just her turn.

3. Pain in the shoulder is a little better. I go back to the Doctor on Thursday for a follow-up appointment. I'll know more then.

4. I'm launching a new contest Thursday night. It will be based off of the Ten Thousand Dollar Pyramid. Should be a lot of fun! And you can win 250 Blog Explosion Credits!

5. Check out "Across The Sands" by Sun King Poet (Ken). I'm guest posting on his blog and the post should be up sometime today!

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Thanks for reading.

Ass Backwards Adventure

A Guest Post by Tricia:

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Hi Everyone, I'm Tricia. Matt asked me to pop over and do a guest post for him this week. Poor guy. He had a great fall and really hurt his shoulder. Everyone say "Awwwwwwww, or Ewwwwwwwwwwww". Come on- I can't hear you. That's better.

Since I'm a nurse I've given Matt a nice dose of his pain medication so he's feeling pretty good right now. I'll keep an eye on him while I'm here. I might even lightly massage that poor shoulder of his and see if that helps too. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I might not do that after all. He'll want me around all the time while his shoulder is healing and I don't think I can do that since it's a bit of a commute back and forth.

Matt wanted me to write a post about an outdoor adventure. I'm not as adventurous these days as I used to be so I'll take you back into the past.

NOTE from MTMD: This is a VERY long post. It's funny as hell and it's written very well, but if you're going to do this justice, and you should because Tricia's writing is amazing, curl up with a good cup of coffee or a nice cold one because this is going to take you awhile!

When I was in high school they created this class called "Environmental Studies". A lot of people decided to take it because it sounded like an easy credit. I thought that I'd end up with a very good mark from the class because, as I was growing up, my family had a cottage and we spent almost every weekend up at the cottage. I was pretty sure I was going into the class with a bit more knowledge and skills than many of the other students.

I can't remember the exact curriculum but the course involved three or four class trips, a first aid course, and a wilderness survival course. We studied some botany - how to identify the various leaves from trees native to the areas we'd be travelling to, how to build a lean-to both in the winter and in the summer, and how to create a snare to catch rabbits or other small game. Doesn't sound like your typical high school course now does it?

I'm not sure that we took any trips in the fall, so perhaps there were only three class outings. All of the trips took place over 3 or 4 days. The first trip that I remember was the winter survival trip. We arrived at the lodge, somewhere in eastern Ontario Canada in the late morning. The teacher and other chaperones/guides took us out in the afternoon on snowshoes. They showed us the various trails in the area, and I think we all practiced making a trap for small animals--a snare. We would be marked on the making of the snare, using a compass, and building a winter worthy lean-to.

That evening the teacher and the guides broke us up into groups of 5 or so students and led us out into separate areas of the wilderness. We were given a set of co-ordinates and a clue. It was to be a scavenger hunt that would take us on trails in the forest, along country side roads and eventually back to the lodge. I can't for the life of me remember what we were hunting for, but each time we figured out a clue we'd find a new set of coordinates to follow with our trusty compasses to get us to the next clue.

Did I mention that it was about -20 Celsius ( -4 F) outside that night? No? Well it was, it was January after all. I think my team was outside for at least four hours. We didn't make it back first but we certainly weren't last. No, I remember that the teachers and guides had to go out and find the last team. They didn't do very well with their compasses.

The next day we were all sent outside into the cold to build our lean-to's. A lean to is a shelter that is made out of branches both live and dead. You build the structure with dead logs and branches from the surrounding ground cover. Yes, really easy to find in a snow covered area! Then, if you are a good survivalist you pull out your trusty twine and lash the structure together with some jute. If you didn't expect to be caught out in the middle of nowhere and end up having to make a lean-to you'd use grassy reeds, or long strips of green pliable bark as twine, or you'd search for branches that you could interlock together i.e. ones with y shaped ends that you could rest another branch into and hopefully it would end up being secure. I think we had twine.

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Lean-to

After you've created the basic structure of the lean-to which is usually low on one end and high on the other - like one half of a tent, you need to find some pine or cedar bows to cover the structure with to make it water and wind proof. You also need to gather a lot of these live branches from pine or cedar trees to create a bed for yourself to sleep on. Especially in the winter. You don't want to end up sleeping on the cold snow!

We worked in small teams to build our lean-to's. I think it was teams of two. Then we were marked on our creations. That night we got to sleep outside in the lean-to's that we'd made. That was fun! I don't remember being too uncomfortable so my team must have done well. Oh I forgot to mention that somewhere along the line we also learned how to make a fire by rubbing sticks together to get a spark. Forget the flint that they get to use on Survivor, this is the real way to make a fire. I think we were all successful after several attempts.

(Oh look everyone- Matt's fallen asleep. He's got a goofy look on his face. He must be dreaming. those meds have really kicked in!)

The next class trip was really cool. We'd been taking our first-aid course in class and the trip was to be a combination of our first-aid exam and to learn how to rock climb. Now doesn't that sound like a good combination? If anyone injured themselves badly rock climbing, why, we'd all know just what to do. Yeah right.

What we didn't know until we arrived at our location was that our teacher had enlisted some of the members of our senior high school drama class to come along on the trip and play "victims" for our first aid testing. They really did a good job.

They used special effect techniques to make puncture wounds on their arms or hands, had objects sticking out of their legs thanks to special effects make up, blood and gore and so on. It really was fantastic to actually put a donut dressing on a realistic looking 'puncture / foreign object sticking out of body part' type of wound. I've never heard of anyone taking a first aid course that ended with the treating of realistic looking wounds and actors acting out typical - in need of first aid type - situations. I learned so much that weekend on that course, and I often wonder if by having such a realistic course if that was what first got me interested in becoming a nurse.

I'm not going to get into all of the ins and outs of the rock climbing part of that trip. I'd already been rock climbing for years prior to this trip and for me it was pretty basic. Learning how to climb up a fairly easy cliff with basic rock climbing equipment (rope, bolt hangers, carbiners and harnesses). The class had already learned how to create a number of knots that are used for both rock climbing, canoeing and for other applications. We practiced climbing and belaying and we marked on our performances.

No one ended up injuring themselves so we didn't get to practice our newly acquired first-aid techniques, but I remember seeing some pretty white faces as a few of the kids faced the climb.

The last trip was the most memorable and truly the one that I had meant to talk about during my guest stint here at MTMD.

It was a whitewater canoeing trip! I swear I was born in a canoe. Canoes have been part of my life from the time I was a toddler or perhaps even younger. My very first memory of actually being in a canoe occurred when I was about 2 1/2 years old, and I've been in a canoe every year of my life since then with the exception of the last few years.

Most people probably think of canoeing as being a more sedate activity. Look at all the pictures of a lone canoeist paddling quietly on a calm lake or river. It is peaceful and it can be sedate, but the type of canoeing I enjoy most is canoeing on fast water. Spring and Fall are usually the best seasons to canoe in fast or whitewater since the water levels are higher due to spring run off or autumn rain.

Since this last trip was meant to be a canoeing adventure I ended up being paired with the least experienced teenager in the group. Poor Simon, he had no clue. We set out canoeing in pairs along one of the rivers in the Ottawa Valley region of Ontario. I'm sorry I can't remember which river it was but it was small and fairly tame. I believe it might have been early June when we took this trip so the waters weren't as dangerous as they would have been the month before.

During the first hour or two of our river adventure we were on relatively calm water. The kids that weren't very experienced canoeing got a chance to practice their paddling skills, steering and maneuvering the canoe the way they wanted it to go. We also had to portage across some narrower and shallow areas of the river so that added to the over-all experience. Simon and I were about the same height, but he either wasn't very strong or hadn't mastered how to carry a canoe through the forest because I remember us banging into some trees more than once and the canoe tipping over and unbalancing us a few times.

That should have been my warning!

Since I had more experience I was in the stern or back end of the canoe and Simon was in the Bow or front of the canoe. My primary job was to steer the canoe - with Simon's help of course. When we started to reach faster water Simon's main job was to spot rocks and tell me where they were as he assisted in trying to help steer us away from the rocks.

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Whitewater Canoeists In Action

Things were going relatively well until we reached our first and only area of white water. It was approximately 200 yards of medium rapids and then a short drop over some rocks into a pool of deeper water below. Simon didn't do his job as well as he could have, he missed a rock or he told me about it too late. Either way, we hit it and the next thing I knew the canoe was spinning around and we were travelling quickly along the rapids BACKWARDS!

There was no time to get the canoe turned around or to try to maneuver it over to the side of the river before we hit the "falls". I really used all of my skills to steer the canoe through the maize of rocks. I'm surprised that we didn't hit any as we travelled backwards through the water. Before I knew it we had reached the falls and here we were swooping down it backwards. I'd never before, and have never since, gone down a falls backwards. It was perhaps a 20 to 30 foot drop. Very interesting and exciting. My adrenaline must have just been pumping by that time.

"Ok we made it down the falls. Did anyone take a picture?"

It was too early to be relieved that we'd made it through. I could see our teacher running along the side of the bank and just at the moment our canoe turned sideways in the swirling water. Simon had given up paddling by this time and I think he was totally terrified. Actually I think he gave up paddling when we hit the first rock that turned us around backwards a few minutes earlier.

I couldn't turn the canoe around--backwards or forwards without his help in the rush of water we were caught in, and the next thing I knew we slammed into a boulder. The canoe tipped over and I managed to jump out. My legs were being squished against the hull of the canoe by the pressure of the water behind me but the majority of my body was above the water. I knew I was safe.

Simon on the other hand was not. He did not jump out of the canoe as it hit the boulder and he ended up trapped under the overturned canoe. Our teacher leapt into the water and pulled the canoe off of poor Simon. He'd had his life jacket on and there was air trapped under the canoe where he had been. He was ok but shaken up. I felt so bad. There was nothing I could have done to prevent our final accident but I still felt like it was my fault that Simon had almost got badly hurt.

We hauled the canoe over to the river bank and it was then that I noticed the middle of the hull was all bent in from where it had hit the rock. I'm thankful now that that wasn't one of our heads! Our teacher stomped on the huge dent until it went back down.

Needless to say the teacher separated Simon and I. I think Simon ended up completing the trip in the teacher's canoe. I got a different and slightly more experienced partner. I was, however, stuck in the dented canoe. It didn't steer very well. Thankfully, most of the water from there on in was pretty calm.

I have never, and will never, get in a boat - raft or canoe, with an inexperienced person ever again. A person with some experience behind them yes--but absolutely none - no way. I have a feeling that Simon probably never got in another canoe after that day. I don't think he liked the experience.

I really wonder what kind of release forms our parents had to sign when we signed up for that class? There were so many possibilities for injury, I'm surprised the school even let the course take place.

Matt, Matt ... wake up! I'm leaving now, gotta hit the road. You need to wake up and take over your blog again. Oh man is he ever funny when he's sleepy. He's just sitting there blinking repeatedly.

Ok, well, he needs a minute to become more alert. I'll just take this minute to remind you to visit his latest room-mate Texas RV Traveler. If you want to learn more about Texas or if you're thinking of visiting the great State of Texas sometime in the future you have to see this site. It's just chock full of great information.

Thanks for reading.

Outdoors and the Cold

A Guest Post by SunKingpoet:

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I’ve always loved the outdoors, but I’ve never been too partial to the cold. I just don’t get how someone can go out in weather below 60 degrees and actually be inspired to hike, raft, or bike. Come on, people. If your nipples are reaching for the sky like the wind is a mugger at the ATM, then it’s probably not a great day for a trip down the river.

Lucky for me, I live in Texas (and have for most of my adult and teen life). To say that we have warmer weather than most places here is an understatement to the Nth degree. Texas (especially south Texas) is hot my friends. It’s so hot here, you know that whole frying an egg on the pavement saying? Well it can actually happen in Texas. What do you think a sidewalk café is in our state? Okay, so I kid… only slightly.

Truth is, I dig the heat… love it in fact, but I happen to be married to a woman who must be part polar bear, because our house is kept so cold, there’s actually a glacial layer of ice on all of the linoleum floors. The kids and I use ice skates to get across the kitchen. Okay… well, maybe they’re more like socks and we don’t have our very own ice age taking place, but it is cold… really cold… that’s the point I’m trying to make.

Where was I going with this? Uhmmm… hold up, let me shuffle some thoughts around in my head.

Oh yeah, the cold and outdoors…

I’ve never been hunting. I’ve never had the desire. Though I’m an animal lover, I’m not a card carrying member of PETA (those folks scare the Hell out of me), and I’m not opposed to hunting for food if the need arises. However, I think I’d prefer pushing the shopping cart down the frozen food isle at the grocery store rather than sitting in a deer stand in the winter with deer urine on my boots and a sack of corn scattered across the grass. Let’s just say it’s not my idea of a good time.

I have been canoeing in the winter though, and let me tell you that that experience did nothing to make me lose my aversion to outdoor activities in the cold. It seems that somehow a pair of pretty eyes fluttered a bit and I lost complete control of my ability to think clearly agreeing to take a canoe down the Brazos River during a January cold spell. A canoe is not the most stable of boats with inexperienced drivers. Did you know this? Yeah, well, I wish you would have spoken up at the time. A dunking in the river, and a rather severe cold later, I made up my mind that if I was going to have a day outdoors, it was damn well going to be 70 degrees or more on the thermometer.

Whitewater Rafting?

What’s the weather report?

MTMD Responds:

Whitewater Rafting? What's the weather report? Who cares? My dear Sun King Poet, you're going to get wet anyway. Sun, Mist, Thunderstorm, Rain, Hurricane, Clouds...it's all good. If the water is high, the rapids are fast, and the waves are tall Whitewater Rafting is the best bang for your adventure dollar. In no other activity can you and a group of friends or family have wild fun, experience nature on a grand scale, be entertained by your guide/comedian/naturalist/historian/geologist. Add in the natural team building that results from running a whitewater river and you can also write off those thousands of dollars you were going to pay to Zig Ziglar.

The planet is 70% water. Our bodies are 70% water. Water = life. Granted, every once in a while you might want to have all that water baked out of you on a beach somewhere on a 100 degree day, but you know what you'll look like in your forties and fifties if all you do is soak up the sun--you've seen those men and women with their dried out sun-baked hides. How they look twenty years older than they really are. Don't plead ignorance, YOU KNOW. Whitewater Rafting is the ultimate in hydrating activities....and ONE MORE THING!

Ten Years of Whitewater rafting I've never had so much as a scratch! One game of softball and I have a separated shoulder. I'm telling you, whitewater rafting is good, clean, safe, hydrating fun!

Tell ya what: My Dear Sun King Poet, I invite you to West Virginia the third weekend in September for a trip on the Upper Gauley as my guest. The weather will be warm. The water will be warm, and the Gauley is one of the ten best whitewater rivers in the world. I guarantee an awesome time! And I make you this promise: Once you come over to the WET SIDE, there's just no going back.


Thanks for reading.

Journey of Nostalgia

A Guest Post by G K Stewart:

Hey my name is gksden, and I am helping out while Michiganrafter’s wing is being healed. So, I will be attempting to write this post for him. I am a Colorado native, and I have a dirty little secret. Sssh, I don’t know how to ski. Ssssh, and I don’t know how to rock climb. Please don’t tell anyone. I am your person who rarely goes camping, but that may be due to my experience as a youth, when I had an opportunity to attend a mountaineering school. I did enough of that for a lifetime. Oh, I loved it. Truly, I did, it was even spiritual. However, it is not my first recreational activity, I am a biker first, a hiker second, and a camper third—actually may be 5th or 6th. Nonetheless, there was a time, when I wanted to scale Mount Everest. Ah, the folly of youth. Observe as I recollect….

A Journey of Nostalgia*

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Sangre De Cristos Mountain Range

I have wanted to write about an experience when I was younger; much younger for the last month. Recently, as I walked through my campus at school—Auraria—which is home to three colleges: Community College of Denver, University of Colorado at Denver, and Metropolitan State College of Denver, the spring weather had brought campus vendors on to the common area grounds selling their wares, opportunities, and adventures.

One such company sent me “Reelin’ in the Years” (Steely Dan) for nostalgia. The vendor name was Outward Bound Wilderness—but in my day—it was Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS), a slightly distinction admittedly, but I had not seen, or heard of the school in nearly a generation of my lifetime after high school.

Nevertheless, my head was suddenly a washed with memories; the aroma of pine filled my nostrils, and flashes of green field pastures danced hauntingly behind eyes, and reverent smile grew on my face as I talked with youthful proprietors that attended the stand.

It was the summer of my seventeenth birthday, and four months earlier I had been enticed (or bewitched depending on one’s perspective) to go on a quest. I was encourage and inspired to by science teacher, whose name escapes me at this very moment (temporary brain damage, at least I think so). Anyhow, it was to bee three weeks (or 21 days) of trekking through Sangre De Cristos Mountains in southern Colorado and I was remembering as I chatted somewhat enthusiastically Jason Stout of my past youthful glory days.

I had been a young struggling urban youth, lost in my world of science fiction, and awkward teenager trying to find the balance of my intelligence and arrogance. I remember that I was running late to class, the school bell of my high Alma matter, George Washington, had just rung. As usual, I was running behind. I entered the biology classroom with all the stealth of a water buffalo. I had tripped over my own two feet, and went sprawling with my books and supplies across the floor. Classroom snickers could be heard throughout room.

My teacher look at me, he was not upset, with amusement. I hurriedly picked up after myself, when I noticed the guest inside the classroom. A stranger sat patiently in one of the corners—a young woman. She was in her late twenties, red wavy hair, slender body, and forest green eyes that seem to look through me. She was wearing a red plaid flannel shirt underneath it a white t-shirt, and 501 blue jeans. My encouraged me with his eyes to take my seat – so I did. She was a guest speaker for a company called Outward Bound where they provided wilderness training for students, tourists, and companies that had teamwork issues by leading groups of people on rafting, hiking, and mountaineering trips. This woman glowed like a prophet her fervor nature was intoxicating.

She was hypnotic. I was mesmerized. Her voice was soothed like honey going down one’s throat with a hot cup of tea when sick. Her dark green penetrating eyes glistened like deep pools of water twinkling with excitement as she showed slides of wonderful mountain vistas, of rivers, and of her scaling steep mountainsides with effortless abandon. I thought to myself, “I could do this!” My heart pounded and began to ascertain the possibilities of adventure, and I was not just thinking of the mountainous terrain.

After all, of course, fantasies of a young man’s fancy ensued. I imagined the conquering the massive 14,000-foot peaks, traveling down the most difficult rapids, and scaling the most difficult cliffs. I would conquer nature, and I would be nature’s king. I would be king of the mountains! It is peculiar how life’s aspirations turn out.

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(Green Mountains, Wet Mountains are part of Sangre De Cristos)

My biology teacher informed the class that if one went on such a trip they could get extra course credit and then I heard how much. My heart sank. I might as well have bought a new-used car for the amount of money they were charging, but I was determined. I was going to conquer nature not only for me, but I was going accomplish my life’s destiny. So, I gathered up the brochure materials and my books and took it home to my mother.

I spent the better part of a week trying to convince her, a single parent of three, to let me go; certainly a difficult task. I bribed my sisters, and I had to promise to procure a job to pay my mom back. However, when everything was said and done, I was still $350 dollars short. The Monday morning, before the deadline for payment and a week before the deadline, I informed my teacher of my predicament. He suggested that I apply for a scholarship for the rest of it.

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(Lake Isabel, Wet Mountains part of the Sangre De Cristos)

One of the universal truths’ is that what effort you put out is exactly what you get back. So I applied for the scholarship and got lucky and received exactly the $350 (I have suspicion that my teacher may have sponsored me indirectly, but really will never know. If he did—thank you).

Now, all I needed was to buy clothes, backpack, and boots. It took all summer to acquire the items I needed, and I took this as sign of my first conquest. My journey of discovery began in the early part of August, the rainy season, when thunderstorms rolled in and out of the Colorado Mountains. The buses came and picked us up, we, the grand adventurers, from the designated spot. The pilgrimage to the southern red mountains was long and arduous. At one point, I saw the Sand Dunes of Colorado far in the distance; the camel white dunes were smooth, crystalline, and seemingly smooth as silky. The Dunes rose like waves gently caressing the sides of the hills. It was late when we arrived at the base camp.

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Cleveland and Tijeras Peaks, Music and Marble Mountains rising beyond the dunes
That's Challenger Point, Kit Carson Peak and Columbia Point rising on the left.
(Source National Park Service).

It was dark, the night enveloped the mountains and the trees, and it was disturbing. The city lights of Denver were a distant memory. However, my confidence did not waiver as the buses pulled into the staging area, but the journey was just beginning. A hike of ten mile to the first campsite was the start of the expedition. We would break up into groups, and begin our sojourn for the night. We walked in silence as the ground grinded underneath our steps. After about an hour it began to rain, and my first lesson came upon me, my boots began soaking the rain that fell upon them.

My waterproofing had failed. My boots were soaked, my socks, my feet, and looked like prunes when I had removed them for the night. The next thirteen of the twenty-one days it would rain. I scaled various mountain-sides some successfully, and some not with my group. The one’s we failed to conquer would rot at my gut; nevertheless, I saw nature in its wonderment. I saw hawks using it wings to ride thermals of air for what seemed like forever, and then suddenly dive to catch its meal for the day. I was envious. It was one more reminder of the enormity of nature and how the beauty of flight seemed graceful.

One day our journey came to a screeching halt. We sat in our tents as we waited for the storm to subside before hiking the next mountain range. It never did, and our patience was wearing thin. We were losing time. We each had a mission to accomplish that of fasting and solo meditation. For me this was the test I would best myself against nature. The instructors would check on us daily to make sure we drank enough water, however before any that happen, the rain and fog kept us socked in at our campsite. So, we waited.

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(A winter moment from Europe, image by RobT)

Finally, unable to wait any longer, we gathered our saturated belongings and proceeded up the side of the mountain. Each step was a squish, a deliberate plod, and a squirt. The red mud clay of the mountain slipped from underneath my boots. The mud had stacked on like layers on the bottom of my shoes, as the group reached the vista that lay ahead of us changed from a doom and gloom London rain to the rolling hills of green Ireland. I stood there; we all stood there, in amazement of the sudden change of fortune and weather…

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California Peak in San Luis Valley (Sangre De Cristos Mountains)

It had been three days and my group leader had returned for me to tell me my solo was done. The time of my meditation and reflection had changed me. Nature had let me feel the loneliness and the solitude. I learned they were completely different animals. A person could alone in crowd of people while solitude was the individual ability to find peace within oneself and be okay alone. I felt alone, I had all my life, even though I had two sisters and a mother and my father a Rolling Stone (Sly & family Stone) and no where to be found. Nature had shown me my loneliness……

“Zapata Falls is located 4 miles east of Colorado Highway 150, just south of the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The gravel road going in is excellent for a BLM site. From the parking area it is about a 1/2 mile walk uphill to the falls. As you are well above the San Luis Valley floor and looking over the sand dunes, the views are excellent.

Two million years ago glacial activities were sculpting the Sangre de Cristos. The waterfall flows through a rock dike left by a retreating glacier. As the glacier melted away, a large lake of melt water built up behind the dike. Eventually, the water found a weak spot in the dike and began working and eroding its' way through.
The photo on the left above was taken at the entrance to the rock gorge carved by the water. The photo on the right was taken inside the gorge. To get there I walked across the frozen and flowing streambed into the gorge. The gorge is open up above but you can't always see the sky. And it was probably 30 degrees colder in the gorge with a stiff breeze blowing downstream (there was almost no wind outside the gorge).”

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It had been a tough three weeks and the excursion was about over when I decided to walk off by myself when I found a large saucer shaped boulder large enough to house a house a small family. Okay, maybe a small midgets’ family, but a rather large boulder, which I climbed, and laid down upon it in the evening air.

The night sky was filled with stars as the sounds of the woods reached a crescendo when I felt the change within my lungs. I lay there perfectly still not wanting to be disturbed by the atmosphere of the night. My body started to tingle like a thousands of ants had just crawled over my skin. First, I felt the loss of my arms, neck, legs, and then my feet. I could not move them. I tried desperately.

I was suddenly frightened. I did not know what to do, but the more I struggled, the more the sensation grew. Finally, I wrestled myself to my knees, then to my feet. I stood up and began to walk away when I pivoted on my heels to look at the boulder—I saw myself on the great rock with my eyes wide open.

The moon rose, and it was big as life. I stretched out my arm see if I could touch it, and suddenly I was there. The moon was barren, lifeless and I saw far above the horizon the Earth. I pinched myself. I seemed real enough, and suddenly the Earth grew fainter, and fainter, and I was floating towards a light.

It was calming, benevolent, and soothing to my soul. Faster and faster the light grew more intense and just when I felt my eyes might burn away, I stood in a luscious forest green field. A melodic orchestration washed over me. It was of nature. The sounds of it poured of me, reminding me that this was mine, ours, and life was meant to be lived.

As quickly as it formed, the journey home reversed. The green field faded, darkness returned, and the Moon and the Earth grew exponentially. I now stood over my body, seeing it really for the first time. I reached out touch my arm and with that the words breathlessly, “What the hell?” spewed out. Nature had taught her final lesson to me and that, she was the timekeeper—and certainty of death was not to be feared. When my trip had ended, I had returned home to understand that life’s isolation was up to me, and that I could be comfortable within my own skin—no matter what the color…

Jason Stout and I exchanged pleasantries as I grabbed his business card as I vowed to him and myself that I would help in anyway that I could bring back my passage from childhood. Ah, memory lane, that day was good, I walked to my next class, and my sentimental refrain reminded that after all, it is just another day in paradise. And so…. life goes on, while nature remains wondrous, mysterious, in all its beauty.

Thanks for reading.

Apache Junction Desert Beauty

A Guest Post by LunaStone:

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Hi! My name is Luna. Michiganrafter asked me to do a guest post about where I live, Apache Junction, AZ (about 40 minutes East of Phoenix). Everyone knows it’s hot here (our seasons being Spring, Summer, Hell, Fall), so I’m going to skip all that and talk about the beautiful scenery. When the idea first came up about moving here, all I could envision was Barstow, CA where I was born… a barren place, nothing but scrub brush and ugly. Arizona is nothing like that. There are beautiful wild flowers, native trees and (of course) cacti. Most recognizable, the Saguaro, pronounced Sa War O (war pronounced like car). A little Saguaro tidbit, they don’t get their first “branch” until they are at least 80 years old. Below is a Saguaro at sunset on one of our rare cloudy days.

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We don’t do a lot of outdoor activities as my husband is a creature of comfort, but we do go on a lot of drives up into the mountains, high desert and to the Salt River Canyon. I think people would be surprised at the many different landscapes here, all within an hour drive in any direction from our home.

To the south we have open desert. To the North and East we have mountains and to the west is the high desert. It’s called the high desert because of it’s altitude. The Sonoran desert is absolutely beautiful. Here are a few photos I’ve taken along the way.

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The open desert across the street, looking southeast at the rising moon.

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One of our amazing sunsets.

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The Salt River Canyon

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The famous Superstition Mountains with snow. To get to the base of this mountain, it’s a five-minute drive. I get to see this beautiful work of nature every time I step outside my door.

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An example of some of the beautiful flowers that thrive here.

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And another.

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And finally, one last look at The Superstitions.



Thanks for reading.

MTMD Welcomes "Texas RV Travel"

It's almost makes me blush when no less than eight individuals bid to rent space on my blog in barely a one hour period. I am truly honored that so many think enough of my blog that they want to rent space here. However, when push comes to shove, I chose my renter, Texas RV Travel, because she's 1. bid on me before, 2. was the first one who bid this week, and 3. her blog is a lesser known one that I believe everyone should take a look at.

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As you might guess, the topic of the blog is RV travel in Texas. Now before I started reading this blog, every time I thought of Texas I just pictured a big flat city like Dallas or Houston. Sometimes I thought of the Alamo and San Antonio or ugly oil drills dotting the horizon for as far as the eye can see. But other than Big Bend National Park, I had no idea of the beauty and diversity of vistas that can be found in Texas.

Just on the first page of Texas RV Travel, there are pictures of Camp Wood, and Scenic Loop Drive, Laguna Madre and Cowgirl RV Caravans to mountainous places and to the Colorado River. (Granted, the latter is in Colorado, but Texas is obviously so much more beautiful than it's archetypal image of a long grey highway ribbon stretching endlessly across the Great Plains into the west.

I highly recommend you click on the thumbnail at the top of my sidebar and check out Texas RV Travel for yourself. I've learned a lot about Texas from visiting this blog, and I know you will too.

Finally, I'd like to extend my thanks to the other bloggers bidding on my rental space this week. All of them are outstanding and definitely worth your time to take a look: Aeowolf Online, Imagination Madness, Long, Slow, Beautiful Dance, My Devilish Side, Odd Planet, Scooter McGAvin’s 9th Green, Tales of the Opiated Sherpa.

Thanks for reading.

Kayaking in Colorado

A Guest Post by Cat

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Oy! Matt is injured and so it seems he will let just anyone write a guest post for him. Must be the pain medicine.

Anyhow, I’m wandering over from my blog and thought I would stay on topic with his and tell a story I haven’t told on my own about my first kayak experience. Sounds sexual but it’s not, sorry.

I moved to Colorado to get out more and experience outdoor activities without dying in the sun (like I would have in Texas) or being eaten by large snakes. I had met a friend that would carry a kayak on top of her truck during the summer months. I was always curious about taking it out but scared after hearing stories of so many getting hurt (shoulders hitting rocks, concussions from the same) while riding the river.

My friend assured me that it would be best to just take it out in a lake or pond to get used to it and she suggested the ‘cold springs’ nearby. Now, the cold springs used to be a place where they would put fish in, let them lay eggs and produce, then stock the river with them. It has a very soft base and when you walk into it you feel as if you’re being swallowed by quicksand. I had the sand up to my thighs and it just creeped me out.

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The cold springs are also right next to the base of a mountain and just on the other side of a pathway is the Piedra River, an amazing river that boasts a high elevation of 7,620 ft. and is 19.2 miles long. A site I just looked up says the following:

The Piedra's water flows clean, clear and cold, but is not drinkable without purification. The flow is generally rated Class IV with some Class V rapids at any navigable level. The river starts nearly a mile and a half above sea level at an elevation of 7,620 feet msl and drops over 1,000 feet in less than 20 miles at a rate of 54 fpm, making it a fairly swift-moving stream. The cold water and high elevation make it necessary to wear dry suits or wetsuits with base layers, or water-repelling garments that are layered to prevent hypothermia. Neoprene glove and hard-soled river boots are also strongly recommended.

So, needless to say I went with her and we took the kayak along so I could practice. The neat thing about this area is it isn’t more than 2 acres wide or long and isn’t more than 4 feet deep. Gives you a little confidence with being a new kayaker and you can hear the river just nearby rushing fast. I love the area and found out, that same day, that I loved to kayak. The bears love that river too, but that’s another story…

My next trip was to a lake neaby. The largest lake in the immediate area was calling my name so I took the kayak out and packed some bottled water and light food into it. I paddled to the middle of the lake, took my shoes off and propped my feet up and as I looked at the largest peak in the area I ate my lunch. I could not have asked for a more relaxing day.

I have taken the kayak down the river (San Juan & Rio Grande) a few times since and have plans to upgrade very soon so that I can take on bigger and faster runs…but until then I’m left with the love of kayaking my way. Slow and relaxing with great scenery!

Thanks, Matt and his readers, for listening to my story.


Thanks for reading.

Not All Adventures are Outdoors

A Guest Post by Mr. Fabulous

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When Matt asked me to do a guest post for his fabulous blog, I was a little surprised. I mean, sure Matt and I have a few things in common. We both collect Pez dispensers. We both shave our nether regions daily. And there have been a few nights when we have engaged in a little Brokeback Blogger action with each other, if you catch my drift.

But Matt is a rugged, adventurous outdoorsman. I, most decidedly, am not. You are not going to get me to go whitewater rafting if you held a gun to my head. If you threatened to burn down my village and make slaves of my children I would still refuse to go rock climbing. The mere thought of getting on a roller coaster makes me sweat profusely.

The only calluses I have are on my ass. And no, it’s not from the Brokeback action, wise guy. It’s from all the time I spend in my La-Z-Boy recliner.

But then I realized that I am an adventurer. I am a thrill seeker. I am a survivor, people. You don’t need to get in a raft or jump out of a plane or stick your head in the tiger cage at the zoo to be labeled a man of action. I am a grizzled veteran of the most treacherous terrain on God’s green earth.

The office.

Let me regale you with some harrowing tales of my own.

The Tragic Copier Incident of 2001

There were ten of us on staff, furiously working in the copy room, desperately trying to make enough copies of the budget report for the end of the fiscal year. We were racing against the clock, our backs against the wall, the deadline looming only a few hours away.

Then tragedy struck. Jason loaded a defective ream of bonded paper in the intake tray. He forgot to do a safety check. The edges were ragged. Soon Tim and Scott went down with massive paper cuts. We all started to get hit. Our anguished cries echoed down the hall and into the break room, alerting some of our colleagues, who came running once they finished their coffee and cinnamon buns.

But it was too late. We lost three men that day. Good men. I held Jason in my arms as he breathed his last breath. His dying words haunt me to this day:

“We forgot…to collate.”

December 2004: The Great Floor Wax Debacle

The custodial staff was waxing the floor in the reception area. Our company uses those yellow caution signs that are printed in both English and Spanish. You’ve probably seen them.

Unfortunately, the two custodians could read neither language. They were, in fact, Canadian. And who the heck knows what language those people speak?

In any event, they didn’t know what the signs said, and so they never put them out. And thus the stage was set for calamity.

Tammy went down first, landing on her side with a sickening crack as her hip fractured in several places. Laura attempted to rush to her aid, only to slide across the slick surface like a hockey puck, slamming into the far wall head first and scattering her teeth like Chiclets across the glossy tile. I attempted to restrain Braden as he ran down the hall toward them, but he was wearing his breakaway shirt that day. “No, you fool!” I screamed as I admired the old world craftsmanship of his pink Oxford shirt, which now was little more than a metrosexual rag in my hands, “Stay back!” But it was too late. Braden went down too, his feet flying out from under him as he landed on his back, and his neck snapped with a sound not unlike one hand clapping.

Finally, cooler heads prevailed, and using a series of pulleys and ropes and old yogurt containers we pulled the injured to safety. Poor Braden never recovered. He now spends his days in a wheelchair, dribbling oatmeal down his chin and mumbling constantly about how the Monroe Doctrine was a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States.

My Kingdom for Some Dasani

August 15, 2003 will forever be known by those who were there as the day men wept openly, women barked like dogs, and children were milked like donkeys. I don’t know what any of that means. But that’s exactly the kind of day it was.

For on that day a perfect storm was formed; a storm which changed every soul who was there.

8:47 a.m. The air conditioning system fails. Indoor temperatures climb rapidly in the sweltering August heat.

9:52 a.m. The water cooler runs out. All the bottles are empty. The bottled water truck is three days overdue.

10:24 a.m. Every single employee, to a man, wishes that it was Hawaiian Shirt Friday instead of Winter Parka and Thermal Underwear Tuesday.

11:57 a.m. People are starting to drink their own urine.
1:34 p.m. Hallucinations are common. Jennifer swears that Mandy has the head of a unicorn. Annie is convinced that giant panda bears are playing musical chairs in the conference room. I suspect that Nazi frogmen are shadowing me when I go to the restroom.

2:46 p.m. People are starting to drink each other’s urine.

3:46 p.m. Current count has us at 4 dead, 11 suffering from heatstroke, and 2 who have really developed a taste for urine

4:45 p.m. Stephen becomes the hero of the day when he realizes that we can just walk out of the building and go down to the convenience store and buy all the water we want. We erect a loving tribute to him out of the fallen bodies of our comrades.

In Conclusion

So don’t call me a namby-pamby sissy boy until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, bucko. I’ve seen things that haunt my dreams. I have been to the precipice. I have stared Death square in the face until I lost control of my bowels. And then Death lost control of his bowels. Boy oh boy, that was a long day.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday Funny

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Thanks for reading.

Illiouette Creek

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Grade 3 Shoulder Separation

Ouch! It's pretty bad everyone. I have (almost) the worst kind of shoulder separation: a grade 3. All three of the A/C ligaments are severed and my clavicle is severely detached. The good news is that my skin is still in tact and there are no signs of skin abrasion from underneath. This means that surgery may not be necessary.

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It's possible that this injury will mostly heal on it's own. To help and give me the best chance of healing, I'm wearing a clavicle sling. A clavicle sling is like the straps of a backpack except without the pack. It's purpose is to maintain posture and to prevent slumping and favoring of the injured shoulder. I go back to the doctor in two weeks for further evaluation. If I am pain free, then I can begin rehab. If there's little or no improvement, then surgery will be required. Surgery is bad as it would necessitate cutting of a whole bunch of muscles that really do not need to be cut; it would also considerably weaken my entire left shoulder.

But if all goes well over the next couple weeks and with rehab, then I will have nearly 100% range of motion, but with a little chronic pain (ache), and a bump as the clavicle will not return to the place God intended it to be on its own. But I can live with that.

For those of you that are interested, the following text and diagrams from Sportsandortho.com illustrate exactly what happened when I fell on Wednesday afternoon and explains treatment.

A separated shoulder is a common injury among contact athletes, especially hockey and football players, but it can happen to anyone who falls and lands on the tip of their shoulder or elbow. The result can be an injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold the bones in your shoulder together. It is a very different injury than a shoulder dislocation, which is a separation of the large joint (glenohumeral) in the shoulder. Often these two types of injuries are confused.

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Evaluation
You may have a partial or complete tear of one or both of the main ligaments that connect your collarbone (clavicle) to your shoulder blade (scapula). These are the acromioclavicular (AC) joint and coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments. X-rays may be taken to help diagnose the extent of your problem and exclude a fracture at the end of your clavicle.

Your shoulder separation is classified by the extent or magnitude of your injuries.

* Grade 1: A mild shoulder separation involves a sprain of your AC ligament that does not move your clavicle and looks normal on X-rays.
* Grade 2: A more serious injury tears the AC ligament and sprains or slightly tears the CC ligament, putting your clavicle out of alignment to some extent.
* Grade 3: The most severe shoulder separation completely tears both your AC and CC ligaments and puts your shoulder joint noticeably out of position.
* Grades 4, 5 and 6 AC separations are very rare.

Treatment
Since the severity of your injuries may vary greatly, all injuries are treated on a case-by-case basis. If your injury is a grade 1, 2, or 3 AC separation, you'll possibly wear a sling for a few days until the pain subsides. It is recommended that you ice your shoulder for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day during the first 48 hours. You may also use anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers. In most cases, your doctor will send you to physical therapy to restore and rebuild motion, strength, and flexibility.

You may resume your normal daily activities when the pain in your shoulder eases. If you are a contact athlete, you will be allowed to return to your sport once you have full range of motion and good strength in your shoulder. You may also be required to wear special protective devices or padding.

Surgical intervention when treating a separated shoulder is very rare and only performed in the most severe cases.


Thanks for reading.

FOUNDING FATHERS

When Osama bin Laden died, George Washington met him at the Pearly Gates. He slapped him across the face and yelled, "How dare you try to destroy the nation I helped conceive!"

Patrick Henry approached, punched him in the nose and shouted, "You wanted to end our liberties but you failed!"

James Madison followed, kicked him in the groin and said, "This is why I allowed our government to provide for the common defense!"

Thomas Jefferson was next, beat Osama with a long cane and snarled, "It was evil men like you who inspired me to write the Declaration of Independence."

The beatings and thrashings continued as George Mason, James Monroe and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger on the terrorist leader.

As Osama lay bleeding and in pain, an Angel appeared. Bin Laden wept and said, "This is not what you promised me."

The Angel replied, "I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you in Heaven. What the hell did you think I said?"


Thanks for reading.

Dedication Friday: Va Va Voom!

Pick a song, any song, and dedicate it to the one you love...or hate, or despise or admire, or anything at all. Just dedicate a song, give a reason why, publish the song lyrics if you want, and join the autoscript. If you'd like to be included in the Dedication Friday Blogroll, just post a comment on MTMD and I'll add you. Thanks and have fun!

Please, only add your name if you are posting the Dedication Friday Meme on your blog.



This week I would like to dedicate Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar On Me to my new renter, Va Va Voom. I was thinking about dedicating something by Nick Lachey to my good friend Cat since she is such a huge fan of his; however, I have been negligent in spreading the love for my renter this week and Cat isn't going anywhere now is she? Anyway, Va Va Voom and I first met when I was running contests last month and she started participating in them. She's a really cool single mom with a good head on her shoulders and an awesome sense of humor. Check out her current post on the Worst Movies Ever! (Just click on her thumbnail at the top of my sidebar. You know you want to!) It cracked me up.

But in her own words, Va Va Voom is a: creative chic, single mother who's starting fresh in life. I'm easy going, loves a good laugh and being around other creative, artistic or funny people. I'm originally from the Philippines but grew up here in Australia. Va Va Voom is my main character in an online game I play called City of Heroes.

And in case you were wondering, Def Leppard's Hysteria is one of her all time favorite albums from high school, and Pour Some Sugar On Me was the biggest hit from the album. So Va Va Voom, here's your long distance dedication:

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Pour Some Sugar On Me

Step inside, walk this way
You and me babe, hey! Hey!

Love is like a bomb baby c'mon get it on
Livin' like a lover with a radar phone
Lookin' like a tramp like a video vamp
Demolition woman can I be your man
Razzle 'n' dazzle 'n' flash a little light
Television lover baby go all night
Sometime anytime sugar me sweet
Little miss innocent sugar me yeah yeah

C'mon take a bottle, shake it up
Break the bubble, break it up

Pour some sugar on me
Ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me
C'mon fire me up
Pour some sugar on me
Oh! I can't get enough

I'm hot, sticky, sweet
From my head to my feet yeah

Listen! Red light yellow light green light go!
Crazy little woman in a one man show
Mirror queen mannequin rhythm of love
Sweet dreams saccharine loosen up

You gotta please a little, squeeze a little
Tease a little more
Easy operator come a knockin' on my door
Little miss innocent sugar me yeah
Give a little more

Take a bottle, shake it up
Break the bubble, break it up

Pour some sugar on me
Ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me
C'mon fire me up
Pour some sugar on me
Oh! I can't get enough

I'm hot, sticky, sweet
From my head to my feet yeah

You got peaches I got the cream
Sweet to taste saccharine
'Cos I'm hot, say what, sticky sweet
From my head, my head, to my feet

Do you take sugar, one lump or two?

Take a bottle, shake it up
Break the bubble, break it up

Pour some sugar on me ooh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me c'mon fire me up
Pour some sugar on me oh, I can't get enough
Pour some sugar on me oh, in the name of love
Pour some sugar on me get it, come get it
Pour some sugar on me ooh
Pour some sugar on me yeah, sugar me


Thanks for reading.

Well Wishes For My Shoulder

Thank you all very much to all of those who have sent me kinds words of encouragement, advice, and general commisseration over my shoulder! It's very much appreciated!

Thursday 13: Reasons Why I Love My Shoulder

1. It's hurting now and needs some TLC.
2. It makes rafting possible.
3. It's essential to getting dressed every day.
4. It makes every little movement you usually don't think about effortless.
5. You can't type without your shoulders. Well, that is.
6. You need your shoulders to hug your girlfriend.
7. You need your shoulders to get food out of the fridge and make dinner.
8. Shoulders play a key role in sex.
9. You need your shoulders to give a High-Five.
10. The novelty of being home all day watching cable movies wears off pretty quickly.
11. You need your shoulders' cooperation for really good chicken-fights.
12. Without your shoulders, it's harder to take criticism.
13. Sleep is a lot more comfortable with healthy shoulders.



Thanks for reading.

Suburban Turmoil named MTMD Blog of Excellence

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Suburban Turmoil is a blog that has fascinated me since I first discovered it through the Perfect Post Awards. Lucinda's template is irreverent, her voice is unique and strong, and she is not afraid to bare her soul—that “Live like you were dying" comment is right on. (You want to see what I mean, then go visit her site. You won't be disappointed!) That is why Suburban Turmoil has been selected as an MTMD honoree.

Congratulations Lucinda, and keep up the awesome work!

Thanks for reading.

Perfect Post Awards

It's time again for the Perfect Post Awards!

For those of you who missed the Perfect Post Awards last month, this is what they are all about: MommaK at Petroville and Lucinda wanted to give a little recognition to bloggers out there who've written something extra special during the month of May. With that in mind, they launched the Perfect Post Awards.

A Perfect Post

On the first day of each month, all participants will give out the award to their favorite post written by another blogger during the preceding month. The "winners" will receive a cool Perfect Post button for that month, which they can put on their sites if they wish. MommaK and Lucinda will link on each award day to everyone who's giving out a Perfect Post award.

This is a chance to read some of the best posts written each month- and to spread a little warm fuzziness, too. If you'd like to present an award yourself next month, e-mail Lucinda or MommaK and they'll send you the latest award button code a few days before June 1st, so that you can participate in next month's awards!

And now without further adieu, my Perfect Post Award goes to....

Jason at Karolczak.com for his post, "Robot Chicken Clip: Darth Vader Explains the Loss of the Death Star"

Even though this is a youtube cartoon, I find it hilarious and it's really helping me overcome the pain from my newly separated shoulder. Thanks Jason for bringing this to my attention...we all need more laughter in our lives.

Please stop by and comment on this clip if you get a chance and remember to e-mail Lucinda if you'd like to give out a Perfect Post Award next month. The more the merrier!

To find out more about Lucinda and the Perfect Post Awards, please visit Lucinda at Suburban Turmoil, and tell her that Matt at Meltwater, Torrents, Meanderings, Delta sent you!

Also, please stop by Va Va Voom who is renting space from me this week!

Thanks for reading.

OUCH!

Hey everyone! Guess what? I separated my shoulder yesterday. That's right. Follow-up visit to the doctor is Saturday morning. Then I'll find out if I need surgery.

The pain is excruciating, even with the percoset. I really recommend that you do NOT try this at home.

During my recovery, phone calls, alcohol, and chocolate will be greatly appreciated--not necessarily in that order.

Thanks for reading.

 
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