Ok, maybe not "the King", but me at least. haha After a nice vacation from work... Im back. Its Monday morning and Im at my desk being the good little employee that I am. Now, its time to get caught up on everything I missed last week. Shouldn't be too tough.
My vacation ended quietly last night. No big weekend adventures, no exciting events. Just sat at home with Emily and watched the closing Olympic ceremonies. Woo whooo! Exciting. haha The weather for my vactation was great. Sunny and clear almost every day. And I dont know what happened to the summer here in Texas, but its, well.... gone. The 100+ temps seem to have drifted away and been replaced by high 80's and low 90's. Which is bad for jetskiing on the lake but good for every other activity here. Oh well, time to get back in the groove of everday life. At least I had a good hike in the mountains early last week and I got a lot done on my time off. I'll update more when I have more exciting things to say.
Here is the little speedster that I mentioned in my post below. He was nice enough to stay out and let me get at least 10 feet from him. Then like lighting, he was gone. He must live a quiet and peaceful life on top of Elk Mountain.
So far my vacation has been GREAT! Monday morning at 7:30am I was in my car and driving up to Wichita Falls to visit Brotha James and some other friends. That was pretty much a normal stop. Play some pool, hang out, eat at some old favorite places. Tuesday was the day I was really looking forward to.
James and I were up bright and early and on the road by 9am with my brother Courts. We had all our hiking gear ready and were excited to get up to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge an hour North in Southwest Oklahoma. We arrived about 10:15. Before actually starting our hike, I thought it would be cool to drive up the second highest peak in the refuge called Mt. Scott. At a hight of 2,549 feet, I would'nt call it Mt. Everest but once on top you feel like you are on top of the world. You can see for miles over the mountain range and the vast expanse of nothing. Really a cool feeling! We explored a bit and took some pictures. Then it was back into the car and off to the trail. About 20 minutes later we were parked and getting our gear on. Hiking boots... check, water and gatorade... check, sunglasses... check, camera equipement... check, we seemed ready to roll. Then I remember the night before I had asked James to bring sunscreen because it was a hot, cloudless day. So I say, "James you got that sunscreen?". He replies, "Nope, Im good though... put some on before we left!". DORK!! He was supposed to bring it for everyone, not just him. What a team player. Anyhow, we hit the trail ready to hike thru the 1.1 miles twisting, winding, rugged trail to the top of Elk Mountian. About a 1/4 of the way up, two guys are coming down the trail and stop to tell us about 3/4 the way up there is a buffalo resting on the trail side and to just quietly go around him. The reason for this warning is buffalo aren't like cattle. Getting to close can cause them to feel threatend and they can charge. So, we took note and forged on. A little further up the trail we come across a family of 5 coming down. They say the same thing, keep an eye out for the buffalo. No problem. About half a mile further and we are really starting to sweat. We'd been hiking for about 45 minutes and it felt like id been on a stairmaster for twice that long. But we were having a lot of fun working our way thru the rocky terrain.
I do believe my small "Lewis and Clark" crew had come a bit underprepaired. James had brought nothing to actually carry his water bottle in. So he just had to walk with it in his hands. He had tucked a white towel up under the backside of his white hat to protect his neck from the sun. He kind of looked like someone from the French Foreign Legion. He also wore a dark red T-shirt which had to be hot. Courts, on the other hand, was even less prepared. He didn't wear cargo pocket hiking shorts like the rest of us. He wore long pants!! He had to be cooking by now. Also, he wore his glasses and not his contacts. I heard him complian more than once about the glasses sliding down his face. He also brought nothing to carry his water. I was nice enough to stick it into my backpack. At least he wore hiking boots! Although I would'nt have been surprised if he would have shown up in sandles.
Back to the hike. By this point, we were getting near the half way point. We had taken several rest breaks whenever we came to some trees with shade. But we were still soaked with sweat by this point. All of a sudden, we look up on the ridge about 200 yards ahead of us and we see the buffalo we wer told of. He was just up and grazing on a patch of grass. He starts walking off to our right into a patch of trees. Meanwhile, I was snapping away trying to get a good picture of the giant male Bison. But soon, he was gone. Vanished from site. So we pick up our gear and move out. About 5 minutes up the trail, we are walking and talking and all of a sudden... "SNORT!" I hear the loud sound of a buffalo snorting. Which is what they do when startled and they want to smell what they have encountered. I look up, and about 15 feet from me is that very large buffalo looking at us. While keeping my eyes on him, I tell the guys, "Ok, just stay calm and dont run....." I look over my shoulder to see Courts and James in a full sprint back down the trail we just came up!! Unbelievable. I look back at the buffalo and he just, well... looks bored. He starts walking again, and stops at a grass patch and lays down. I get Courts and James back up to where I was and we move on.
About 30 minutes later, we reach the top of the mountain! There was a nice strong wind blowing and the view was incredible. We started exploring and snapping pictures. I went off my own way and found a cool and very large lizard sunbathing on a large rock. I started snapping pic's of him with my zoom lens. Got some good ones too. After about 30 minutes of doing this, we packed up all our stuff and started the climb down. It probably only took half the time going down. We were able to move much faster. We reached the bottom exhausted and quite hungery. Just past the exit of the refuge was a Burger King. Sounded good to us! A quick stomach refueling stop and we were on our way back to Wichita Falls, an hour South. It was a really fun trip and I got to take lots of great pictures. It was a good thing we got there early, so it was still cool and nice out. Later that afternoon the heat index reached 103F! Too hot for hiking.
Yesterday, Friday, at 5:01pm my 9 day vacation from work officially started. It was such a relief to walk out the door and know I have so much time off to get caught up on things. Unfortunatly, this weekend so far has been kinda gloomy. Which has delayed jetskiing for the time being. The first adventure of my vacation is planned. Monday morning around 10am I will arrive in Wichita Falls Texas to shoot some photo's of interesting places, and visit Brotha James. From there, we get up early on Tuesday morning and drive an hour north to the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. I should be able to get some really great pictures there with my new camera. I can't wait to try it out! I'll return home that evening and prepare for a late 10:30pm soccer game. Should be an exhausting day.
As for most recent activities, Emily and I saw "Open Water" last night. This is the movie about the couple that goes on a diving trip and the boat mis-counts heads on the boat and leaves while they are still underwater on the dive. They come up and realize the boat has left them in the middle of the ocean! Needless to say, the sharks soon find them and its only a matter of time. But suddenly, the boat captain finds their belongings still on the boat and a huge search for them is launched! Will they reach the couple in time?! Will the sharks have scuba divers for dinner!? Stay tuned for the exciting ending! Ok... just see the movie. I wont tell what happends. :)
Just got word late last week that my buddy Roger has found a place to work as a contract worker..... Uzbekistan! It had come down to one of two places, there or Afganistan. I think he got the safer of the two. He'll be doing technical support for the military while living on an Army base for a year. Rumor has it, he could stand to make as much as $120K for his stint in this dangerous part of the world. I guess as long as he doesn't go on long, desolate hikes thru the remote tribal regions of the country, he'll be ok. I guess this is the best time for him to work as much as he can, read books, watch movies, play video games and sit tight while the months role by. Well Roger, if you read this; Good luck over there. You'd better take a bunch of cool pictures and write home often. Perhaps you can set up a blog like this one, and update it for all us safe, boring folk back here at home. :)
In four days I start a week long vacation from work. Woo Whoo! Of course, this week will go extra slow because im looking forward to my time off. But I do know that at 5:01pm on Friday I will be a free man. Well, at least for the following week. I have some adventures already planned. People to see, places to go!
This past weekend was fairly uneventful. Went jetskiing on saturday like usual. Sunday, made a run up to my parents house to visit. Like I said, nothing action packed. Ok, enough boring posts. I'll stop now.
The time was here and it was time to help Mike and Cheryl load up their U-Haul rental truck for their move to Galveston, Texas. Emily and I arrived about 7 and I began helping Mike carry out peices of sectional couch and the bed. Loading all their stuff into a fairly small rental truck was like playing a giant game of Tetrus. But, we got it all in there. We were later joined by Mandy and her new friend, who I can't remember the name of off hand. But he was cool and he help carry stuff out, so glad he showed up! I have to express my disapointment in one of our friends. Therese, you let us down. Cheryl and Mike kept asking me if I had heard from you or if you were coming out to help or even to say bye. I told them you were coming late. You never showed. =( Im sure you had your reasons. Now they are gone, moved south... and your chance to say good luck and good bye has passed.
Anyhow, they are on their way to a new life on the island in south Texas. Should be a lot of fun for them. I'll be visiting them soon and take lots of pictures to share. It was a nice moving/going away party last night. One of the best parts of the night came when it was time to clean out the refridgerator. They couldnt take all the food with them, so they gave me chips, icecream and other dishes they couldn't take with them! Free snacks! haha
This past Saturday, my friend Mike graduated from college. So, of course, we had to party that night! His dad and some other family had also flown into town to attend the event. It was a good time. The evening finished off with everyone heading down to Fry Street (bar district) and Mikey boy getting his fill of celebratory drinks. I heard he gave some of it back to his lawn later that night. But thats another story I suppose. haha
Not too much else happening this week. Im counting down the days till my next scheduled vacation. Im taking a week off soon, so another 9 days of freedom and fun for me! Where will I go? What will I do? Plans are in the works, thats all I can say. :)
For the past year and a half Ive resisted the urge to buy a new printer for my home computer. Well I finally broke down and picked up one last night. I got the HP 1350v. It's a scanner/copier/printer combo with front ports for all types of memory cards. Its pretty sweet. Prints out nice color 8 X 11's too! Not bad for $125. Yeah, not a very exciting post. But I just wanted to mention it. :) Im happy I finally got a printer.
It's time again for Tuesday night soccer. For the second time this season we were matched up against the Dragons. Now, this is the team we beat 15-0 a few weeks ago. They haven't won a game and we didn't want this to be their first win. Besides, we needed this win to stay in 2nd place. When I arrived at the game, I found out we would be missing one of our better players, Cody. He was out of town. As game time neared, it seemed hardly any of our team was showing up! When the whistle blew to start the game, we had only one subsitute on the bench. Not looking good. Thats when Ken spotted a couple players who are on our reserve roster. I got them suited up and now we had 3 subs. Much better. It was a lower scoring game, but we still managed to come out on top 6-0. Second game against this team where they couldn't score a goal on us. We played some tight defense! Good job team!
Is it the Red Planet?! Nope, just our good old local moon. I took this on the first night of August, while the moon was low in the sky. Nice shot I say! Besure to read the post below this one about my fun trip to Odessa Texas!
This past weekend, Emily and I packed up our bags and drove 5 hours across the flatlands of west Texas to the distant city of Odessa. First off, just let me say that it is totally mind boggling that we can drive for 5 and a half hours, in a straight line practically, and still be in the same state.
We hit the road right after work on Friday evening. By 11pm, we were rolling up in the driveway of her parents house in Odessa. We were so exhausted! But, excited to be there. Emily was excited to be there because it's her home town and she gets to see her family and friends. I was excited (and quite nervous) because I was getting to meet her parents for the first time! After arriving, getting settled in and some drinks and snacks we all sat down at the kitchen table to talk and introduce. I quickly felt very comfortable at her house. Her parents turned out to be some of the nicest people I have met in a long time. It was a big relief. All the scary things she had told me, turned out to be false. Ha! About midnight everybody went to bed and I was out like a light.
Saturday was a busy day. First we all drove over to Emily's grandparents house so I could meet them. Her grandma and grandpa were also very friendly to me. He joked with me about not going too fast on my jetski with Emily riding on the back. I assured him I was very careful while riding on the lake with his grandaughter. ;) Hey... I am! We left their house and went to eat at a local restaraunt called "Taco Villa". It kind of reminded me of a Taco Bell but with better food. Emily had raved about this place the entire drive to Odessa. I ordered a couple soft chicken taco's and a challupa. I'll have to admit, it was pretty good fast food Tex-Mex. Id probably choose it over the local Taco Bell most any time. Although I wouldn't quite rave about it like Emily did. :) From there, the day got really interesting. We followed a poorly drawn map given to her by her friend, to a skydiving place out in the middle of nowhere. Two of her friends were going to be skydiving for the first time. Arriving, we expected to see a sharp, clean establishment with new planes and equipment. Buzzz.... wrong. Although they were professional about the subject, it looked like a crop-dusting business run out of a barn! Besides the owner, the rest of the employee's were barely 21. Even the pilot! I had brought my DRebel with me and I was snapping away the entire time. I probably took 80 pictures during the event. It was really cool to see the both of them jump out of the plane and float down to the ground. Ive gone blank at this moment and cant remember their names! Im sorry!! Wait... .I think it was Shannon and Alisha. haha Alisha went first. She landed picture perfect. Shanon was looking good, then... she just kind of crumpled to the ground. Not hard. Just tumbled forward. She wasnt hurt and it really was kinda funny. They helped her up and she dusted off and was just fine. From there we headed home to relax and have some pizza with her family.
Sunday, we were all up early and preparing to go somewhere I had not been in almost 18 years.... church. I was wrong... the building didn't burst into flames and satan himself didn't break thru the floor to tell me hello when I walked into the church. Ha! The service was longer than I remember. Back in the day when I was a child going to the catholic church, we were in and out of the place in 45 minutes, despite all the sitting, kneeling and standing. This church service lasted about an 1.5 hours. Didn't seem that long though. It was a fairly entertaining service. From there me and her family gathered at another restaraunt she had been really talking up, called "Roses Cafe", I think. This was a Tex-Mex restaraunt that was somewhere in between fast food and sit down food. I got a taco salad and I liked this food a bit better than the Taco Villa place. It was good stuff! Two thumbs up. :) Her family knows how to pick the tasty places to dine in town. After that we headed home to pack, get cleaned up and prepare for the long drive home. This was my first time to Odessa Texas. Although VERY different from anywhere Ive ever lived, it really was a nice town with a vibe of its own. The scenery around the city was pretty incredible. It was flat, as far as you could see... to the horizon. A few tree's speckled the scene, but overall it was flat and barren. Well, with the exception of the literally hundereds of "pump-jacks", pumping oil from the ground everywhere. Most people would say this is boring scenery. To me, it was kind of exciting. This was a landscape I had never seen before. Given more time, I would have gone out exploring across this vast expanse.
The drive back wasn't too bad. We were home by 8pm and tired. I got unpacked, cleaned up and crashed in bed to get ready for work the next day. Ugg