Friday, October 29, 2004

In Praise of Childhood Snacks

My snack of choice:  pretzels.

I nosh on pretzels very nearly 24/7.  I keep a bag in my desk drawer for when I get a craving at work.  I can hardly watch television without them.  They're the perfect fat-free treat.

I have always eaten pretzels.  My parents started me on 'em young.  One of my earliest memories is sitting in the back of the car on some sort of road trip, clutching my bag of pretzels.  Mmm, salty snacks.

So, it shouldn't surprise you to know that whenever I stop off at the store for a few emergency items, I always pick up a bag of pretzels.  I've tried many brands, and can generally rank them (the store brands are better than most name brands; the Snyder's of Hanover are preferable to Rold Gold). 

A couple weeks ago, I was in need of a few emergency grocery items, so I stopped off at a grocery store -- a different chain from where I do my usual shopping.  And there I saw them:  Laura Scudders Pretzels.

Memories I never knew I had came flooding back.  Laura Scudders was "my brand" when I was a kid.  I grew up with them.  I fell in love with pretzels with them.  I was extremely peeved when our local store stopped carrying them and I had to switch to Tem-Tees (another one I don't think you can find anymore).  They were the best mini-twist pretzels.  The perfect pretzel-to-salt ratio.  I bought a bag, for old time's sake.

I ate it in two sittings.  And since then, I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't thought about them.  I've got to go back to that store and buy them out!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

This Week's Homework -- Morbid Poetry

For this week's homework, Scalzi gives us another reader suggested assignment (and we know those are all brilliant, right)?

>>This week's Weekend Assignment is another reader suggestion, this time from isckwootton, and just in time for Halloween:

Write your own, preferably rhyming, epitaph.  For example,

Here lies Jed,
He fell out of bed.<<

Okey doke.

Here doesn't lie the body of Sharon
She died while trying something darin'
Rode a zorb down a real steep hill
Wanted to stop but she never will

Sorry and Thanks

Sorry the updates have been a little thin lately.  Seems that since I got back from vacation, I've been too busy living life to write about it.  (I assume everyone else who keeps a journal has been there at one time or another.)  Blah blah, cat's still cute, blah.

But before I write anything else, I wanted to thank John for using my idea for a weekend assignment last week and also thank everyone who responded to it.  I've been clicking links like nobody's business since it went up, and it's been a real stroll down TV Memory Lane for me.  I guess I've watched an awful lot of TV in my time, because nearly every one of the replies has made me think, "Oh yeah!  I remember that one!"  So, thanks for that.

(Besides, y'know, my thanks for actually playing.  Because it would really stink to propose a weekend assignment and have, like, two people answer it.  Not like I'm all about comment-counting or anything.  But there are certain situations -- and this is one of them -- where you really want to hear something other than crickets.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Cruising and Politics Don't Mix

One final note about the cruise.  The final morning, when we had our last breakfast together, several passengers were wearing George W. Bush pins.  The pins had been absent during the cruise.  Indeed, all political pins, buttons, T-shirts... even talk was simply not there.  It was as though we all followed some unwritten rule about not going there and making the rest of the week uncomfortable (as you know it would be if the 80-some people on the boat divided themselves into partisan camps).  As it was, all we had going was some good old-fashioned rivalries over the pennant races.  Cool.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Homework: Good Old Television

Well, of course, I have to take a break from the travel journal in order to answer this week's weekend assignment.  Especially since, y'know, it's the one I submitted.

>>"With the upcoming New Fall TV Line-Up, I get to thinking about the last Golden Age of Television (whenever the heck THAT was).

"Assignment:  What gone, but not forgotten, TV series do you miss the most?

Extra Credit:
  If you had to be on a game show or reality show, which one would it be?"<<

Well, I did have a show in mind when I submitted this one.  Homicide:  Life on the Street.  It was, without a doubt, the best thing on television.  A brilliant show, with multi-dimensional characters -- all of the heroes had flaws -- that wasn't afraid to tackle difficult subjects with the depth they deserved.  The cast was a highly talented ensemble, although Andre Braugher stood out in the character of Frank Pembleton, a searingly intelligent detective who could talk you into confessing a crime you didn't commit.  Whenever anyone starts calling television the "idiot box," I play them a tape of one of my favorite episodes -- to show how much value television can have (and still be entertaining as all get-out.)

I also had an answer in mind for the extra credit.  I've actually auditioned for two shows in my lifetime.  When I was in junior high school, I auditioned for Teen Week on Wheel of Fortune.  (Made it to the callback stage, but did not get further.)  And just a few months ago, I found myself in a studio doing an audition video for, um, a spinoff of a highly successful reality show -- the spinoff being called, Queer Eye for the Straight Girl.  I didn't get on that one either.  While somewhat disappointed that I would not be getting a free personal and home makeover, I prefer to think of it as a positive thing that there were other people who needed the style assistance of the gay community more than I do.



Trip Journal -- Day Seven

15 Oct. 2004

Ack!  There's a man outside my window!

OK, here's the thing.  My cabin window faces, y'know, outdoors.  Generally, river.  (This was the view this morning.)

And, conversely, if you happen to be outside, you have to be pretty much up against the window to see anything inside.  And seeing as there's no, y'know, walkway outside my window (unless we're docked or something), I've taken to changing with the window open.  I mean, who am I going to flash?  Some salmon?

So, after our 2-hour kayak (which was great -- more on that below), I come back to my cabin to change.

I'm tucking my shirt into my jeans, preparing to zip up, when Pete, the bosun, pops his head in and says "Hi!" through my open window.  He's walking on this little rail (here, let my get a photo)

That thin grey thing along the side of the ship.  He's walking on that.

So, Pete's walking on this rail alongside the boat, bringing some kayaks over to the starboard side, and he just pops in and says hi.  Scared the scat out of me (as we've taken to saying).

So.  Kayaking.  Last day.  Puget Island.  Two hours.  My partner is Kelly, one of the "adult daughter" passengers.  She's really fun -- she likes getting ahead of the other kayaks; she grew up around a lake so knows a bit about paddling (and birds, which we're seeing a lot of) AND she brought along a bag of peanut M&M's for a sugar rush/protein break right when we needed it.

We saw a couple of great blue herons, a speck-in-a-tree which I'm told was a bald eagle, and various other birds.

The kayaking was through a shallow waterway through some untamed greenery (our guide, Chris, said other passengers told him it reminded them of the Everglades).  We ended up going through single file, and Kelly and I took a position right behind Chris.  At one point, a tree fallen in the water blocked Chris's boat. He pushed a branch out of the way and went through.  We followed with a little difficulty -- not as smoothly as Chris, but we made it through.

Chris had to go back, though, to help some of the other boats, and he told us to just go on ahead.  (Best.  Guide.  Ever.)  So here's me & Kelly, scouting out our own path.  So cool, being in front -- like you're the only boat out there in this serene natural environment.

We'd paddle some, then just coast -- to listen for birds, sneak up on one for a photo op, or just make sure the other paddlers didn't get too far behind.

Chris had been my guide the other day -- when I was with Jack.  I mentioned he told us some stuff about running in shallow water and how to turn really quick with the paddles (and not the rudder).  Like I said, I'm a quick study.  Today, we reached a patch of really shallow water.  Chris just goes, "It's really shallow here," and right away, Kelly and I are all up with the rudder and steering with the paddles.  So we're through with no problem -- and one other boat gets out easy with us.  So here's us, back out in good water, hanging out, snapping pics with the other boat, and I look back and see Chris at the shallow part helping each of the other boats get through.  Oh yeah.  Kelly and I rock.

The duration was good, too.  Actually, I'm no more wiped from the 2-hour paddle with Kelly than I was from the one-hour "showtune cruise" the other day.  I'm more recovered from the hike, had a better stroke (several, actually) and a good strong partner.  The last 15 minutes or so back to the boat were tiring, but if we'd come in after only an hour, I would have been extremely disappointed.

That it, I think -- the last "adventure" of the adventure cruise.  The rest is just lots of cruising -- to the mouth of the Coumbia and then back to Portland, the Captain's dinner (I'm planning to wear a casual cotton dress and hiking boots) and whatever Scrabble games Gerde can talk people into. 

It's been a blast.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day Six, Second Entry

14 Oct. 2004, later

We signed up for our last kayaking session (tomorrow morning) after dinner.

My first session was an hour and a half.  After that, I only signed up for one-hour paddles because I was so wiped from the hike.  (Had I not hiked, I was all set to go for 2 hours and maybe work up to 3 on the last session.)  Today, I am exhausted from rafting, but it's a different, good kind of exhaustion.

I look at the sign-up for 1 hour kayaking (my pal Jack has already put his name down).  I also indecisively peek at the 2 hour.

Kristina, our guide, holds the 2-hour sign-up sheet and says, "C'mon, I know you can do it."  I reply, "Last time I listened to you, I ended up hiking up a mountain."  Her retort:  "You did it, right?"

I have half a mind to say, "That's not the point," but, given a split-second to think about it, I think it probably is.  I pick up the pen and sign up for 2-hour kayaking first thing tomorrow morning.

(I am so getting a massage when I get back to L.A.)

Trip Journal -- Day Six

14 Oct. 2004

OK.  I love rafting.  Love it, love it, love it.

That's me on the left, in the sun.

Today, rafting the White Salmon river in Washington.  A class 3-4 with one (count it, one) class 5 rapid.  Perfect for me, really, as I was just about ready to try out the class 5 experience but didn't want to jump into a big old "expert" river.

This was great.  Before we went over the 12-foot waterfall, our guide (a grandmother of 2) pulled us over, re-inflated the raft, and made surea ll our ducks were in a row (in this case, the photographer and the rescue team).  Better safe than swimming and all that.

I was quite proud of myself -- I may be one of the weaker kayakers on the ship, but I'm a good strong paddler when it comes to rafting.  And I'm also pleased to report I was the first one back in position ready to paddle when the guide yelled for us to get back up (from our official positions of cowering in the raft for going over the waterfall).  I'm guessing that if everyone had gotten up and was ready to paddle, we wouldn't have run on that rock.  Ah well -- minor setback.  Nobody got thrown from the boat (and no injuries of any kind) which makes it a good trip by my reckoning. 

Well, that and the "I rafted over a 12-foot waterfall!  Woo-hoo!" thing.

Trip Journal -- Day Five, Fifth (and final) entry

13 Oct. 2004

I now give you, in terms you will understand, the average age of our passengers.

Tonight, we had movie night.  A list of films was offered, and a group of passengers (largely of the female persuasion) made the decision. 

Our passengers overwhelmingly voted for The Princess Bride.  Even when another choice was Pirates of the Caribbean.

That's the age of the women on this boat.

Trip Journal -- Day Five, Fourth Entry

13 Oct. 2004 (still)

I am retiring from Scrabble.

Yesterday, a fellow passenger peer pressured me into a game.  I'm a fair player at best.  I haven't had a game of Scrabble since before Law School; I don't have a list of a hundred 2-letter words at my fingertips; and whenever I did play, it was always the friendly type of game where there were no challenges and you could look in the dictionary whenever you damn well pleased.

This here, on the other hand, was by-the-rules, go-on-and-challenge-me-if-you-don't-think-it's-a-word Scrabble, and I was in over my head.

I actually didn't do so bad, losing by something like ten points.  And this only because:  I had good tiles; I got a very lucky play; and there was a third person in the game.  My main competition, a passenger named Gerde, is someone who I could never beat one-on-one.  But the third person kept opening spaces on the board and leaving plays I could take advantage of -- which Gerde never would have given me.

So, really, it was not the slaughter it should have been.  Several of the other passengers (including Andrew, of monopod fame) gave me a good-natured ribbing for losing to someone whose language isn't English -- but, really, I considered myself lucky to lose with dignity.

Besides, my game improved just by playing with Gerde, and I told her so.  When you're playing friendly Scrabble, like I used to, you just play your tiles -- you don't try to screw the other guy.  Gerde played offense and defense.  And she worked them multiplier squares.

One thing I'll say for me -- I'm a quick study.  Gerde found me this morning and wanted another game.  This time, we had two other players (thank goodness).  I had reasonably good tiles, some extraordinary luck and, ultimately, the best Scrabble game of my life.  I also had a close, yet decisive, victory.

Gerde asked for another game and I demurred.  I shook her hand, happy to have come out of things with a split decision, and "retired" from the game for the duration of the cruise.

Funny enough, I ended up having a couple meals with Gerde and her husband.  They're a nice couple and have been almost surprisingly friendly.  I felt like I'd passed some sort of test once Gerde found me a worthy Scrabble opponent.

Ultimately, the Scrabble was a good thing.  I'd dreaded playing Gerde at first -- because I hate appearing ignorant and (having watched her play) I was pretty sure I wouldn't come out in the best light if we played.  But I ended up finding out that underneath her competitive exterior, she's really quite a nice, warm person who I'm looking forward to spending more time with.

Just not over a Scrabble board.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day Five, Third Entry

I guess I wrote a lot on Day Five.

13 Oct. 2004

"This cookie is broken.  It's not good enough to serve to the guests," I overheard the crewmember say as she walked off eagerly with two cookie halves in her hand (on their way to her mouth).

Took me back to when I work concessions at a local movie theater and some of the staff would "waste" candy.  Which is to say, should there happen to be anything wrong with some candy -- like a torn wrapper, broken bar or smushed edge -- something that rendered the candy unfit for sale but still suitable for human consumption, the candy would be taken in back, accounted for on the inventory as "waste," and disposed of however the staff saw fit.

Given this policy -- and the fact that our employee discount did not, in fact, apply to candy -- it wasn't long before the crew started "wasting" candy whenever they got a sweet tooth. Management caught on and instituted a policy whereby a manager had to see all "wasted" candy and approve it as genuinely unsellable before we could officially "waste" it.  This, in turn, led to such practices as restocking the candy shelf by taking aim from 20 or 30 feet away and pitching the candy toward the shelf.  The results were, of course, too battered to be sold and thus were approved as "waste." 

Management only succeeded in putting an end to hazardous candy chucking games when the policy became:  all wasted candy must be turned in to management for management to dispose of.  No point in "accidentally" breaking a candy bar for your manager to eat.

Trip Journal -- Day Five, Second Entry

13 Oct. 2004

Oh, a small note about the passengers.

Had breakfast with a Chinese family this morning and thought, "Thank heavens!  Some diversity!"  There are over 70 passengers on the boat and they're all white.  (Excepting the aforementioned Asian family.)  The crew is all white, too.  (OK, the whole "visible" crew.  There are a few black guys in the galley, but I don't see them much as they're hidden back there, creating tasty things for our consumption.) 

There's something uncomfortable about how monochromatic this place is.  I guess I forget that life is like that in some parts of the country -- but I come from the big old multicultural mecca that is called Los Angeles, and five days among only white folk is weirding me out.

Trip Journal -- Day Five

13 Oct. 2004

Just got back from the loveliest paddle (that's apparently what you call a kayaking session).  We're at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia.  At first, the only options were a 3-hour paddle, a 2-hour paddle, and a walk through Sacajewea State Park -- but I raised my hand and asked for another "one-hour wussy paddle" -- which was granted due to popular demand.  i.e. six of us.

This time, I was with Jack -- an older fellow who don't hear too good -- at least, not from behind.  His hands shake, like from Parkinson's, so I steered.  I'd been a little concerned about going out with him, but he had an easy, measured stroke and we ended up kayaking very smoothly.  We were probably the best team of the three on the water, as I was able to keep in perfect synch with him.

Chris, our guide, even gave us some tips -- showing us some new strokes (even stuff that works without the rudder).  Even something as simple as paddling in really shallow water -- we were hugging the shore and it was awful rocky and muddy under the water.  We kept getting mud on our paddles and going to deeper water, but Chris went right through the shallow bit.  When I asked him, he said the kayak can run in 3 inches of water (4 with the rudder) and he just uses a shallower stroke to keep the paddles clear.  And I was all, duh!  shallow stroke!  Why didn't I think of that?

He also taught us how to turn the kayak real sharp - by extending the paddle and doing a real long stroke.  Yes, I know, all of this should have been intuitive, but with the "idiot-proof" kayaking, we'd just been taught to plant our hands on the paddle and keep doing that one forward stroke.  Chris got us thinking about varying it to bring about different results.  Way fun.

Scenery was also lovely -- paddling on two rivers and all.  There was actually greenery -- a marked change from the dry landscape of yesterday.  This was more like how I'd expected the Columbia to be.

Also, when kayaking, I shared some baseball scores (thanks to AT&T Wireless mMode).  The other two boats were interested in what was happening, so we were paddling along talking baseball.  Later, I realized it was the first time I'd been out there kayaking without concentrating on the kayaking.  Jack set this great pace I could follow with my eyes closed, so my body went on autopilot and it freed my mind up for recalling the scores I'd read.  A small step, but a far cry from the "showtune cruise" from two days ago, where I was all about finding a rhythm to support the paddling.  Next up:  walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day Four

12 October 2004

OK, if you haven't been convinced this is the Best Cruise Line Ever by the kayaking or the cookie hour (every day at 3:00 -- cookies and milk), let me tell you the big one.  The one that isn't even in their brochures, but should be.  Are you ready?

The Coke is free.

Not just during Happy Hour.  Not just at meals.  Any time you want a Coke, you just ask the bartender, "May I have a Coke, please?" and she'll give you one, no questions asked.  (And by questions, I mean, "What's your room number?" -- the standard bill-it-to-your-account question.)  Man.  Coke at will.  It's freakin' paradise.

Today, we had a jet boat ride from Clarkston, Washington.  (Clarkston's twin city is Lewiston, Idaho.  I'll give you a second to think that one through.)

We followed the Snake River down the Washington/Idaho border (leaving the question of whether I can check Idaho off my list of visited states -- as I'm sure the jetboat veered into Idaho territory although I never actually set foot on the land), and then the Oregon/Idaho border, into Hell's Canyon.  (The deepest gorge in North America, we're told -- deeper than the Grand Canyon.  Of course, we weren't at it where it went that deep.)  


Pretty terrain.  Very desert.  Barren.  Columnar basalt with manganese deposits at the bottom.  Our jet boat captain, Buck (Buck was assisted by Leon, who didn't say a word.  He just helped dock the boat and passed photographs among the passengers to help pinpoint sights.  I kept thinking of him as "the other brother Darryl.")  So, anyway, Capt. Buck would point stuff out on either side of the boat, and rather than say "port" or "starboard" -- or even "left" and "right" -- he'd just refer to "The Warshington side" or "The Idaho side." 

Buck pointed out stray bits of wildlife.  Sadly my photograph of the Big Horn Sheep did not come out (no zoom).  We also saw some more petroglyphs although, again, photography was impossible.

I sorta fell asleep on the jet boat on the way back.  The drone was steady and soporific, the sun through the window (the jet boat was completely enclosed -- like the kayaks, this was a water activity designed to be experienced dry) -- anyway, engine hum steady, sun toasty and (thanks to the engine) the bench seats were vibrating like a thousand dollar massage chair.  We all started dozing.

And woke up just as we returned to the ship.  For cookie time!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day Three, Second Entry

11 Oct. 2004 -- later.

Waited near the bar all of Happy Hour to pay my debt to Andrew in alcohol, but he never came near.  I saw him later and thanked him again.  He waved it off.

So, the one-hour kayak ride.  My partner had broken her foot back in Portland, so it was my chance to steer and find out whether the rudder really was idiot proof.  And other than a minor mishap with some rushes, I'd say it went pretty well.

Kayaking went a little longer than scheduled, as pointed out when our guide said we'd been out 45 minutes and were a half hour from the boat.  I was pretty zonked by then --(Later, the bartender said they used to "advise against" doing the hike and kayaking.  Now they tell me) -- so we kept stopping to rest.  My partner and I tried to take our minds off the paddling by talking.

Eventually, I commented that I was trying to find a song with the right rhythm to match our stroke, as these things work best for me with a tune running hrough my head.  After I sang a verse of "It's Raining Men" (first thing that popped into my head), I casually mentioned that I generally hum showtunes.  Turns out girlfriend knew her musicals, so we ended up paddling back with her naming a show and me singing a verse or two from it.  We ultimately pulled in to the boat platform giggling and singing a duet of "Dance 10, Looks 3" (aka "Tits and Ass") from A Chorus Line.

Trip Journal -- Day Three

11 Oct. 2004

Every morning, our schedule appeared on a dry erase board.

We went through three locks last night.  I know.  Still, interrupted sleeps beats all hell out of no sleep -- and with a full belly of scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit, I was ready to take on the hike, er, walk, er, maybe the hike.

See, they tender us to some ... land.  (I believe it's in Washington State someplace, as we've turned onto the Snake from the Columbia) and there's a 3/4 mile gravel path to a lookout.  From here, you can decide whether to take the hike.  The distance is 3 miles (although whether that includes the mile and a half round trip on the gravel path, I'm not certain).  The catch is that it gains about 700 feet in elevation.  And there's no more path -- just a trail, and some scrambling over rocks.

Peer pressure is a terrible thing.

I didn't want to go on the hike.  I said I wouldn't go on the hike.  I was winded at the lookout.

I went on the hike.  Because I was in the third tender from the boat, I had about 5 minutes to make up my mind at the lookout.  I caught my breath.  Some 45 people (nearly all upwards of 15 years my senior) were going or had already left on the hike.  About the only one sitting it out was that nice lady with the cane.

I had dressed for it and brought water -- in case I decided to go.  So, at least, I was prepared to go.  Good plan.

Could not have been about 10 minutes into the hike part when we reached the first "path, what path?" bit.  (It was, actually, going downhill.)  Six senior citizens easily picked their way down it with no problem, while I held up the rest of the group behind me, trying to find footing.  I apologized a lot and continued on.  Bitching all the way.  Largely because of my major stupidity in not packing my hiking poles.  Or even one pole.  A friend of mine who uses crutches calls herself a "quadruped."  I think about that a lot when I'm going up and down these inclines without a pole.  I need that extra "leg."

I had my near-predictable mini-breakdown fairly near the top.  It wasn't too far, but it looked to be nearly straight up and I saw no way of getting up it (much less getting back down) without, oh, murdering that woman who'd had the presence of mind to bring a pole, hiding the body, and stealing the pole.  And that would be an awful lot of work.  Besides, the ship has a "leave no trace" policy, which I'm sure I'd be violating by leaving a corpse out there in nature.

I ask my guide if I can stay there and wait for them to return, but I can't.  Our guide has to keep us all together.  One lady offers me some of her water, and another gives me a tissue for my runny nose. 

And then, enter Andrew.  Andrew is a photographer.  Andrew has a huge pack on his back with all his camera equipment to take pictures at the top of the hike.  Andrew, who apparently had no clue of my murder plans, said, "I've got a walking stick in my pack if you want one."

I blink and have that, "I'm saved!  I'm saved!" expression.  I eagerly dig into his pack and meet:  the monopod.  It's one sturdy little bastard.  A collapsible metal stand used for camera balancing, which can easily double as a walking stick.  Andrew is happy to let me use his monopod to get up and down the hill -- I only have to agree to give it back up top so he can put his camera on it.  A deal is immediately struck.  (I fully intend to find Andrew tonight at Happy Hour and buy him a beer.)  I make it up the mountain fine.  I take pictures.

Pretty, huh?  I have to admit, the view was glorious.  And let me point out that I started off on a BOAT.  Which is to say, this walking venture began way down there where the water is.

The guides are a little concerned about the hike back because we haven't got too much time.  ("I know," says our guide to the other, "But we had to stop and take a rest break."  I add, cheerfully, "That would be me.")  They're a little worried because we've got about an hour to get back to the ship and, "some people take longer going down."  ("Really?" I think, "Are they looking pointedly in my direction?")

I actually didn't take long going down at all.  (I was nearly the first one back from our group.)  A nice man stayed with me during the rocky bit at the top, helping me pick a path down the rocks.  And yay for the monopod.  Having a stick to plant and hold your weight makes all the difference.

There may also have been something about the altitude.  I had no real idea what 700 feet was (and then I thought of that lock yesterday, and thought, "seven times that").  But on the way back, although my feet began to hurt and I was still pretty pooped, my breathing was nowhere near as labored.  I thought it was just 'cause downhill is easier than uphill -- but then one of the ladies pointed out that we'd started at some altitude already and it was just easier to get air when we were lower down.  Good point.

Quick photo looking back up the hill from the path back down.  We were at the tippy top of that far hill in the distance.

There's kayaking in the afternoon -- a 1 hour, 2 hour, or 3 hour session.  Yesterday, I did an hour and a half -- and would have cheerfully gone for 2 today had I not yielded to the pressure and hiked -- but, as it stands, I'm quite happy the one-hour wuss option is out there.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day Two, Second Entry

10 Oct 2004, later

Did I mention I didn't sleep last night?

My quaint and charming cabin is conveniently located just above the Engine Room.  And last night, we went through some locks -- navigating into locks requires use of the bow thruster, about which I know nothing except it sounds like we're running aground, against an angry whale. 

And something in my cabin was buzzing last night.  Not softly, like a fly or something, but loud, as if the window were not seated properly in its casement.

So -- little sleep last night, four hours the night before.  It didn't really faze me this morning.  Excited about kayaking, eager for breakfast (hell, even curious about the marine shower) and I was rarin' to go.

After kayaking was lunch.  I rarely eat much for lunch (especially not after having had breakfast, a meal I usually skip) but I ate like I was famished.  Salad, cup of soup, and two halves of a grilled cheese sandwich.  And, um, another half, as long as the waiter was coming around with them.

We then did the Coast Guard mandated security drill; I sat on the deck for some sightseeing (watched us go through the John Day Dam & Lock -- which raised our ship some 105 feet); I went downstairs for milk & cookies.  I ate two huge cookies.  At this point, I started to notice that I was eating an awful lot, but I attributed it to having expended energy kayaking or something.

And then, it hit me.  I was on a bench seat (in a booth) and I leaned back to rest, almost as a joke.  And my body said, "You're not getting up."  Actually, I don't think my body was capable of complete sentences or polysyllabic words.  It said, "Me want more down time."

I staggered back to my cabin and -- with my clothes on and the window open -- had a bit of a lie down.

I couldn't sleep, though.  The damn buzzing thing was still buzzing, and I realized that this was what was keeping me awake, not the steady hum of the engines or the bright glow of the midday sun.

I pulled myself out of (well "off of") bed --still not having made the connection that I'd been eating like a pig because my body had zero energy and was trying to recharge however it could.  I went into "stubborn investigator mode," hunting down the cause of the buzz.

I actually went right for it (like Inigo Montoya when he does that "Father, guide my sword" bit).  Seems the window is surrounded by mock wood panelling, and some of it is loose at the top of the window, causing the annoying buzz.  Press on it, and it blissfully stops buzzing.  There are bolts all around the window, giving me an opportunity for an easy fix.  I jammed my "adventure camera bag" up there, wedged it between a bolt and the offending piece of panelling.  The bag presses the panel to the surface and presto, no buzz.

This is the view, looking upward, of my window for the rest of the trip:

This accomplished, I promptly fell back in ("on") bed and crashed for two hours.

Woke with a headache.  I had one last night and this morning, too -- but with the new found brain power coming from an actual nap, I know exactly why I have it and how to make it go away.  I haven't had a Coke in over 24 hours.  Stupid caffeine withdrawal.  Conveniently, it is now 6:05 -- "Happy hour."  I'm off to go get happy.

Trip Journal -- Day Two

10 Oct. 2004

The morning view from my cabin window -- Miller Island.

So, last night at kayaking orientation, someone asked what we should wear.  The Naturalist/Guide said it would be much warmer once we passed through the Columbia River Gorge (that night) and she just wears a T-shirt and nylon pants.

I go back to my room grumbling -- nobody put "nylon pants" on the gear list.  I got khakis; I got jeans; I got shorts; I got mid-weight fleece; I even got rain pants, for cryin' out--

Rain pants.

Rain pants are nylon.  Rain pants are lightweight when you're not wearing fleece under them.  Rain pants, when you think about it, are the perfect warm weather kayak bottoms.

All hail the rain pants!

"So, how was kayaking?" you wonder.  I gotta say, this company does everything in its power to make the kayaking experience waterproof and idiot-proof.

The waterproof part was nearly a complete success -- between the spray skirt (conveniently covering my lap) and the nifty launching platform (so you enter and exit the kayak from the ship itself), the only stuff of mine that actually got wet was my water bottle holder and fleece jacket -- both of which were tied to the top of the kayak and got a little sprinkled when I missed a stroke.  Hell, my hands didn't even get wet -- courtesy little run-off guards on the paddle.

It's me!  In a kayak!  Photo taken by my partner as we practiced our kayak-parallel-parking skills before our guide led us off for some sightseeing.

The idiot-proofing was also a success.  The kayaks are long and wide -- making for serious stability.  And they also have rudders.  This is great -- none of that turning the kayak with paddling or having one person call out, "left, right, left, left, more left!" -- you just keep on paddling straight ahead while the person in back steers with foot pedals.

I was paired up with a nice total stranger and we easily navigated around Miller Island.  Our Naturalist/guide took us to see some petroglyphs and pictographs on the rocks -- several were hard to spot ("OK, see those two piles of bird turd.  Now, look at the one on the right and go down about 6 feet...")  I should note, at this point, that the crew isn't stuffy at all, and awfully friendly and down-to-earth.

You can't see it too well, but there's a pictograph in this photo.  The red staining near the center of the image is not rust, but faded paint in a circular pattern. There's also a very small "bulls-eye" sun in there. 

My digital camera, which had previously shown an alarming tendency to drink batteries before even ten photographs had been taken, works a heck of a lot better now that I adjusted the screen brightness (actually, turned it off altogether and just getting the screen lit via ambient light).  I shot many more pictures and the batteries are nowhere near dead.

This one is sunrise over Miller Island.  I actually got very few sunrise/sunset shots all trip, so I was pleased to discover this one.

I also took this shot of my journal.  I can't believe I have the penmanship of a third-grader.  No wonder I type all the time. 

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Trip Journal -- Day One

9 Oct. 2004

Portland is cold.  The hotel lobby is cold.  We've been told to pack for "mild to warm" weather and, just sitting here, you feel like you'll never wear shorts again.  I strike up a conversation with a couple from Houston (who, bless their hearts, think I might be the same age as their grandson.  He's 20.)  Anyway, they've cruised with this company before (to Alaska) and the woman and I both think that we didn't pack nearly enough fleece.

I probably did, actually -- although I packed it in my checked bag -- and that isn't going to do me a whole lot of good until I'm reunited with it on the ship.

We got on the ship around 3:30.  I met my room.  My office is bigger.  The room is certainly doable for one -- and two people and their suitcases would, actually, fit in a room this size -- but I've no idea how the people could open the suitcases and get to the contents.  Seriously.  I unpacked my bag on the other (twin) bed, I've got my shoes on a ledge and my empty bag wedged under the bed.  And I'm still sitting in my own lap when I brush my teeth.

Rooms are equipped with "marine toilets" -- a box about the size of a phone booth housing a john (biodegradable TP only) and what looks like a fairly decent shower head.  The towels are on bars surrounding the toilet, and a shower curtain has been hung to prevent them from getting soggy while you shower.  This may be the first time I've rested my feet on the toilet to shave my legs while in the shower.

We had our introductory kayak explanation/waiver-of-liability-signing session.  Outdoors on the deck (where the kayaks are).  I had to go back to my cabin for my fleece jacket.  (You'd think I would've thought that one out.)  The kayaks look awfully stable and the whole insertion/paddling process is designed so that we don't ever actually get wet.  A completely dry kayaking experience.  (I hear Wil laughing his butt off already.)  I'll let you know tomorrow.

Dinner was scrumptious.  Seriously.  Steak with portabello mushrooms and mashed red potatotes. 

Afterward, we had sign-ups for white water rafting on Thursday.  I'm a little concerned about freezing my ass off (and the one "class five" rapid on the route) but still managed to be first in line to sign up.

I'm unique in my age group on this ship.  I've seen many older and a few younger people.  (Some folks brought teen or adult children.)  Generally, it's an older crowd.  But an older wanna-get-out-there-and-do-stuff crowd, which I respect.

I'm extremely tired and gonna turn in for the night once I master the Gamble of the Thermostat.  We have individual fans/H/AC units -- but whether they blow hot or cold depends on how the crew sets the main switch.  Now, it's kinda cold in here and presently blowing cold air.  But I don't want to miss it if they decide to blow hot, y'know?  So I have it on the lowest fan setting, on the theory that I won't get too much cold, and it'll be worth it when they flick the switch to hot.  Flick it!  Flick it!

P.S.  I pulled down my sheets to find -- no mattress pad.  Just a bottom sheet directly on a mattress.  The weird thing is, there's a mattress pad balled up on the floor under my bed.  (I saw it when stowing my suitcase.)  The other bed has a mattress pad.  I shall now revise my original assignment of "bed bed" and "dresser bed."  Too bad.  I was lying on this one while writing the journal and I got it all warm.

Tune in tomorrow for the next thrilling installment of NZforMe's vacation, sailing down the Columbia...

I'm ba-ack

So happy to be home and getting me some kitten love.  Man, kitten love -- there's nothing like it.

I did keep a handwritten journal during my trip, and my idea is to type in each day's entries on a daily basis -- and add the photographs downloaded from my digital camera.  It'll be like a live travelogue -- 'cepting a week late. 

That's my plan, anyway.  I'll have to hook up the camera and dig out the journal (I hate unpacking) and figure out whether that buzzing sound coming from my computer is something I ought to, y'know, worry about.

Hopefully, I'll have that first entry for you in a few hours.



Saturday, October 9, 2004

Last Internet For Miles

Arrived in Portland.  Never been in Portland before, and I had a little time to kill before the cruise, so I wandered around downtown a bit.  It's nice.  Pacific Northwesty.  (I've never set foot in Oregon before, but I have been to Washington twice, and it's similar.)  Lots of green.  Some sleek, modern buildings, but you just can't shake the feeling that you should be eating elk.

Getting here was ... well, standard for me.  Generally, I take early flights and end up procrastinating on packing the night before.  This results in me, say, filling little shampoo bottles at around 2:00 in the morning, and then having to wake up five hours later.  Well not THIS time.  This time, I finished packing by around 5:00 p.m.

OK, there was a small catch.  The Theatre Critic thing.  A show I wanted to review was opening on Friday night, and I planned to grab dinner, see it, write the review, and be in bed by midnight.


Traffic got ahead of me, and I didn't get to the theatre in time for pre-show dinner.  The show, which was set to start at 7:30, experienced technical difficulties, and got delayed by about a half hour.  And it ran about 3 hours, while I'd been expecting somewhat less.

When all was said and done, I got out of the theatre at 11:00.  REALLY hungry (and, of course, with no feed in the house, no idea of where I could GET food that late at night, and still needing to write the review).

Long story short (I'm in a hotel business center at the extortionate price fo $5 for 15 minutes -- but I thought, hey, last chance for a week), my review got submitted at quarter to three.  In the morning.  THIS morning, come to think of it.  A good four hours before I had to wake up to leave for the airport.

Somehow, I got up and dressed and ready; got in the elevator and went down to the garage ... and my car wasn't there.  A moment of panic; then the memory that the garage door was broken (AGAIN) last night and I had to park in the street.  A second moment of panic -- I'd forgotten to call and leave a message on the City's Parking Enforcement Answering Machine last night --they could have ticketed me!

Hauling my luggage across the street, I was pleased to discover they let my overnight parking violation slide.  A good omen (I hope) for the rest of the trip.


Friday, October 8, 2004


Well, I'm off.  First thing tomorrow, I head for the airport, then off to Portland for all things adventurey.

Unlike most of my vacations, I don't expect internet access on this one.  (And believe me -- I have a reputation for being able to hunt down "the only working modem in a ten-mile radius."  Go on, ask the people at the island in the Great Barrier Reef.  You'd think I could sniff out the internet connection or something.)

Anyway, I'll have my cell phone with me -- which, thanks to that whole update-your-journal-by-IM thing, would be capable of short updates -- but according to my carrier's coverage map, connection will be spotty at best.  I don't know why people think it's more important to hook up coverage in urban areas as opposed to wildlife refuges, but that's how AT&T set up its priorities.

In the absence of reliable internet coverage, I'm going old fashioned on this trip, and will be bringing a pen and some paper.  Haven't actually put pen to paper in a long time for anything more than a page or so at work, so this will be an experience in itself.  Still, I really enjoyed journalling (here) my New Zealand/Fiji trip and I think I'll want to do something similar for this trip, even thought I won't be able to post the entries for public consumption until I return to more civilized places.

See you next week.  Be good.


Thursday, October 7, 2004

Homework -- Holidays

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #28: The United States Congress (or appropriate legislative body in the country in which you live) has vested in you the power create exactly one National Holiday, celebrating anyone or anything you want, no questions asked. What is the name of your holiday, what does it celebrate, and how should we celebrate it?

One Rule: It can't be a holiday that honors someone who already has a holiday. Share the wealth, people.

Some of these homework questions are easy -- this is one of them.  I would add the day I've been celebrating as a mock holiday for, gosh, must be going on 20 years now.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... The Last Wednesday In May.

Ah, The Last Wednesday In May -- the day when all the really good summer movies open.  Y'know, when there's a picture that wants to get a jump on Memorial Day weekend and everyone else pretty much gets the heck out of its way.  This was the opening date for the Indiana Jones sequels, and the Star Wars movies (back when they were good).  (Sometimes, due to the way the calendar falls, it is, actually, the Second-to-Last Wednesday in May.  But we call it "The Last Wednesday" anyway.  Sounds spiffier.  And everyone knows what you mean.)

It was the only time I ever, ever played hooky from school, and I think the whole process would be more convenient for everyone if they just gave the entire the country the day off and we could all stand in line for whichever highly-anticipated kick-butt action-adventure picture we want to see -- to start off the summer right.

Happy Binocular News

So, if you made your way through that last entry (which I realize is longer than the average attention span), you know that I was going to call the camera place and take back the binoculars for which I was undercharged.  Because they sold me 10 magnification binocs, put them in the 8 magnification box and charged me the 8 magnification price.

Turns out, everything is ok.

In planning to go back to the store, I dug up the receipt.  Which actually SAYS 10x on it and has the product number for the 10x binoculars.

The fact is, they KNEW they were selling me the 10x binoculars at the 8x price.

So, y'know, yay.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Gear Shopping -- Part Deux

OK, first of all, yes, I bought the rain pants.  I'd been hoping for more input from the Great Journalling Community, but really, once Wil (Olddog299) invoked the word "diflucan" as a possible downside to not having them, the decision was made.  You must have had a lot of experience debating women, Wil. 

The bad news was that when I went back to REI to buy them and exchange the sixteen dollar undies for sixteen dollar undies that fit, I found they didn't have any sixteen dollar undies in my size.  I therefore returned the drawers.

There was an up side -- between the refunded panties and a discount they credited me because something I'd bought on Sunday went on sale today -- the rain pants were pretty much covered. 

Then again, I bought so much other stuff there today, it isn't like I came out ahead pricewise or anything.  I keep telling myself that I'll have all necessary gear the next time I go someplace, but, really, I know I'll be back at REI again.

Strange, it wasn't so long ago that I first set foot in an REI -- to buy a gift for a friend.  I was instantly offered assistance by at least four employees, because I had that "confused City Girl in an adventure gear store" look on my face.  You know that face you had the first time you went to Price Club and saw 96 rolls of toilet paper in one package?  Yeah, that face.  And now -- I got my REI card, I can tell the women's clothing from the men's without asking, and I pretty much know my way around the place.  Scary.

I mean, y'know how comfortable I felt there?  I actually bought some items that I didn't need for this trip, but saw 'em on sale, and figured I can use them for other things.  Holy cow.  I'm impulse buying at REI.

When I got home, I thought I'd unpack some of the stuff I bought this weekend, and when I did, I made an unfortunate discovery about the binoculars.

Did I mention the binoculars?  I wanted some.  I saw some foldy compact binoculars at Eddie Bauer for like $80, and thought maybe I could do better at the camera store.  So I go to the camera store (I was in a mall) and asked for help with the binoculars.  The employees were much more interested in selling lenses and digital cameras -- the only "help" they'd give me is taking out a pair of binoculars and letting me try them out.  I tried one pair and they were crap.  I gave them back and asked to see the next pair over, the Minoltas.  They hand me the Minoltas and they're terrific.  Best binoculars I've ever looked through.  Crystal clear image, good magnification -- I am sold on these puppies.

"How much?" I ask, thinking that if they come in anywhere in the less-than-the-ones-at-Eddie-Bauer neighborhood, I'll buy them.

"I don't know," comes the helpful reply.  "I'll have to go in back and get the box."

Five minutes pass.  Ten.  I have to get the heck out of the mall and meet someone at the theatre in about five more minutes, and these people are killing time trying to find the box.

With about 30 seconds to spare, the woman comes running out from the back with an empty Minolta box.  "This is the only one," she says.  Fine.  I'll take the floor model.  She scans the box and comes up with a price of $35.

I'm stunned.  I say the only thing I can:  "I'll take 'em."

She jams the binoculars in the box.  She can't entirely make them fit and I don't entirely care.  I'm late.  I tell her so.  I pay her and take the binoculars home.

OK, here's the problem I just discovered -- the magnification listed on the binoculars is different than the magnification listed on the box.  They're, um, better.


I will always, always tell a merchant when they've made an error in my favor.  Absolutely.  Without question.  That's how my parents raised me and that's the way the world ought to work.  People shouldn't take advantage of other people's mistakes.

I go online to the store's website to see how much I should have been charged.  They do not even list the model I actually have.

I surf around the net and discover that ... well, first thing I discover is that some people totally rip you off for binoculars.  I mean, one website had the binoculars (i.e., the model I actually bought) listed for like $125.  I nearly soiled myself until I noticed they had the cheaper model (the model the store thought they were selling me) for $110.

While I have no way of figuring out exactly how much this store should have charged me, it looks like I should have paid somewhere between $8 and $15 (or so) more for the binocs.

What gets my panties in a bunch about this is that I'm supposed to leave on my vacation on Saturday, and I don't have the time between now and then to haul back out to the mall with binocs, box and receipt, and point out to this woman that she undercharged me by an unspecified amount.  Especially when she is likely to respond by not having the right box and therefore not being able to correct it.  I'm envisioning myself standing in the store negotiating a price for the damn things.

Ugh.  Maybe I'll call them tomorrow and see if I can't resolve this on the phone.  Morons.


Monday, October 4, 2004

Alarm Clock

Over the weekend, my alarm was set for 10:00.

Last night, I set it for 7:00, and crawled in bed.

Then I thought, "Oh wait -- I don't have to be at work until 9:30."  Realizing I could really use that extra half-hour of sleep, I reached over and reset my alarm.

I have never in my life reset my alarm clock without turning on the light and doing it right.

But really, how hard could it be?  Turn alarm function off, hold down the timer button, hit the minute button until the readout says 7:30, toggle between "current time" and "alarm time" to make sure everything is as it should be, turn alarm function back on, snuggle back into bed.

Guess which step I missed.

I found out at 7:36, when my back-up alarm clock went off.

That would be the one that's cute and furry, and meows when it's about time to be let into the bedroom for the morning pet-fest. 

I'm so proud of her -- getting me up on time for work.  (I just hope she doesn't carry her enthusiasm for waking me up at 7:30 into the weekends.)

Good kitty!

Gear Shopping!

OK, here's a quirky little fact about me:  I've got to have the right clothes for the job.

I so totally blame my parents for this.  (It's OK -- there's really very little I blame them for, I think they can take this one.)  When I was a kid, whenever we'd have some field trip where we'd go for a "hike" (which, for us, would've been, what? a quarter mile?) or some sleep-away camp weekend up in the mountains, all the other kids would get these nice shiny new hiking shoes or snow boots or whatever the appropriate footwear was.  And my mom would say, "I'm not going to spend $40 for some pair of boots you're only going to wear one day.  You can just wear your sneakers."

And I hated it.  I don't even know if I ended up with more blisters or soggier feet than the other kids, but I know that I certainly blamed each and every blister or seeping bit of wetness on the fact that I had the wrong damn footwear. 

As a grown-up, I've come to understand that there's a right tool for every job -- and, at least as it comes to clothing (especially for the "field trips" of adulthood -- vacations), I want to have the absolute right tools.

Which leads me to gear shopping for my next trip.

The cruise company (it's an adventure cruise, on the Columbia River -- hopefully it won't be cancelled due to volcanic eruption) -- ANYWAY, the cruise company sent me a "Gear List" for the trip.  To my (pleasant) surprise, I actually own a good deal of the stuff on the list.  (Which just goes to show, I guess, that you do get to use this stuff again.)  But there was quite a bit I didn't have, so I spent this weekend trying to acquire it.

I did a pretty good job.  I got New Synthetic Fiber Tank Tops (with built-in shelf bra!) that wick moisture away; a couple of synthetic fiber short sleeve shirts, a pair of sports shorts, some mid-weight fleece pants, a fleece jacket, a wool cap, a camera bag, some binoculars, and a new waterproof watch.  (About this time last year, I bought a waterproof Kids' Timex for $14.  Damn thing died the second time I got it wet.  This time, I traded up to a $30 Casio.  I'll keep you posted.)

I even bought... Lord help me... SIXTEEN DOLLAR UNDERWEAR.  Honest to God. 

These are some pretty impressive panties.  Hi-tech, microfiber, moisture-wicking drawers.  The salesperson at REI swore by them.  Because, really, what good is it to have nice hi-tech microfiber, moisture-wicking everything else, if you're sitting there in old-fashioned cotton drawers?  And the little guys are supposed to dry out really fast (like, in 4 hours), so you can just wash 'em out and wear 'em again.  Rotate between them and two pair can last an entire trip.

The little voice inside my head that belongs to my mother rebels against $32 for two pairs of underwear.  Seriously, d'you know how many pairs of panties you could get at Sears for $32?  Eight, at least.

And then ... and this is the one I need you guys' help on... there's the Rain Pants.

The Gear List says "Rain Pants," so, of course, I have to have them.

I didn't even know what rain pants are.  (I could guess.)  What rain pants are is a really nice piece of waterproof clothing that covers your lower half.  Like a rain jacket in handy pant form. 

There's another thing that rain pants are:  they're $100.

OK, sure.  I could buy the substantially cheaper rain pants that are, like, $35 -- although, besides not being nearly as spiffy as the $100 model, they didn't come in Petite sizes, which basically means that I'd be dragging a good six inches of rain pant on the ground wherever I went.  The $100 rain pants fit perfectly.

There's something else to be said for the $100 rain pants.  They're quality.  When I slipped them on over the (also not cheap) midweight fleece pants, I felt so warm and cozy and waterproof, I was all set to conquer Antarctica.

And then I thought, "But I'm not going to Antarctica."

And I thought, "Yes, these make me feel very warm and cozy and waterproof, but if I ever looked out my window and saw the sort of weather which would require this stuff, I'd stay the hell inside."  Seriously.  I'm all about the right clothes for the job, but it dawned on me that never once in my life did I think, "Wow, if only I had rain pants."  Not even when I was sliding down the side of that glacier.  So I'm wondering, if I didn't need that sort of gear when I was hiking on a rock made of ice, am I ever really going to find myself in a rain pant scenario?  More than that, am I ever going to find myself in a rain pant scenario when I'd have my rain pants handy?  A situation in which I'd say, "My, it looks awfully wet out there; I should slip on my rain pants."

So, to sum up:

In favor of $100 rain pants:  They're on the gear list.  They fit nice.  They're good quality.  They keep you dry.

Opposed:  Dude.  They're $100.

I passed on the rain pants.  I still ended up dumping some $300 at REI and I'm not done shopping yet -- I'll have to go back on Tuesday.  (For one thing, I ended up buying the wrong size of sixteen dollar underewear.)

And on the way out of REI, they handed me an advertisement for their sale, which starts tomorrow.

The rain pants drop to $70.

Help me.

Sunday, October 3, 2004

Homework -- The Happiest Month

Wow.  I'm late with my homework for the second week in a row.  I hope I don't get detention or anything.

This week, Scalzi asks:

There are 12 months in the year. Which is your favorite? Give us one good reason why.

To which I reply:

Dude, I live in Southern California.  We don't have months like everyone else -- well, not weatherwise, anyway.  Our calendar is pretty much an awful lot of Julys, with some Mays, and the occasional April thrown in.  That's about it.

Back when I lived where they actually have seasons, I liked May the best.  Because I love Spring.  Let me tell you, I spent three years in Connecticut and learned all about what "seasonal depression" is.  Sometime in, say, March or April, it would start looking like Spring -- with little buds peeking out from the tree limbs that appeared dead (but were really just napping for the winter) and green leaves struggling to be all green and cheery.  And my heart would soar and I'd skip down the street and go, "It's Spring!  It's Spring!  It's Spring!"

And then you'd get that one last snow of the season -- that winter was holding in reserve, just waiting to throw at you when you least expected it -- and it would crush the buds and the leaves and my spirits.

But May ... May belonged one hundred percent to Spring, and winter couldn't touch it.  I was always happy to see the calendar turn to May, because I'd know that by then, without a doubt, winter didn't have anything left.