reformedmarchingbandgeek

Confessions of a Reformed Marching Band Geek

Snow Day…or Not!

I started a new post on Monday. Mr Grumpy argued with me about what I was going to talk about. I was going to do a little more research on it so I could be a little more factual, but then I decided that I was too tired and had too many other things to do so nothing happened. I may get back to it over the weekend. Or not. Sorry!

It snowed yesterday. The first real snow of the year which, of course, means that no one remembers how to drive. I live on a fairly busy street in our little town. The first plow came through around 8:00. My neighbor had been out shoveling for a while by then. My neighbor across the street has a massive snow blower. I really think it is more than the average snow fall in Chicagoland requires. He uses it for every measurable snow. I was shocked not to hear it yesterday morning. When I went out with the full expectation to chisel my car out to go to work, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was maybe an inch of snow. Really neighbors? Did we need to shovel for that? It will probably blow away by morning. Nuts!

Anyway, I brushed the snow off my car and went on my merry way. Sort of. The non-highway roads were fairly snow covered when I left around 8:45. Not super slippery, but enough to be cautious OR TO CRAWL if you were everyone else out there (with the exception of the dimwhit who was cutting people off on the little stretch of 5 lane road near the post office. There wasn’t really enough space for you to cut that guy off and you were going a little fast. Thank your lucky stars you weren’t clipped causing you to run into me. I would NOT have been happy). Argh! At least the roads were clear by the time I was done with my first client and I could get around fairly easily from there.

The best part is that now that this is out of our system everyone will return to their normal jerky driving selves. Maybe.

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Marathon: or a Crazy Episode of Survivor!

Well I made it. I finished my first marathon. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it was enough to earn an awesome medal and the right to wear all of the marathon wear I purchased at the expo. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1. Even Disney can’t control the weather. It was HOT. I mean steamy hot for the entire weekend. Sitting on my friend’s lanai, it was great. Running, not so much. All of my training in cool weather meant nothing there. I was warm before we even started. The fuel I brought with me only added to my distress as my body wasn’t ready for it in the same way it was on a chilly Chicago run. I’ve never been so happy to be handed a bag of ice at the finish!

2. My Garmin battery does not last more than 6 hours or so. I charged it up over night. It read 100% when I left. It stopped when I got to mile 22. Those were the longest four miles EVER to the finish.
3. My tunes don’t last that long either.
4. I need more songs on my running MP3. I thought I had PLENTY of music. When I run at home, it rarely repeats. This includes 5+ hours of running. I wasn’t as lucky during the marathon. It went into repeat fairly early and by mile 18 I was tired of the songs I brought and went with just the voices in my head. This is not usually a good plan, but I needed a break. Next time, more song options!
5. Ice and a cold pool can be my friend. I’d always heard of friends taking an ice bath after a long run or a race, but I never fully understood why until last week. We stayed with a friend who had a pool in her back yard. The last few miles it was all that I could think about. I was going to take off my evil shoes and walk straight into her pool. It was more like gimping and I needed help being able to lower myself to the water’s edge, but that icy water was the best thing I’d experienced all day!
6. Having a cheering squad (or person) can really help. When I ran my first half my training was similar to this round. I had an injury mid training which pretty much put me behind. It was really hot (but that one was in August, so it wasn’t surprising, but just as miserable). The difference was Mr Grumpy wasn’t there to cheer for me. I drove down with friends for the half, but they were faster than me so I told them to leave without me. I limped back to the train station (I was too cheep to get a cab), took the commuter home, and licked my running wounds alone. This round I told Mr Grumpy he was going to be there and he was going to cheer for me. It made a HUGE difference. I knew generally where he was going to be and had my phone with me (which was not always helpful as it over heated as well, but at least the battery didn’t die until I got to the car) so I could find where he was. I signed him up for runner tracking so he knew where I was. There were many miles where the only thought that kept me going was knowing that he was just ahead and I had to meet him there. I wish there were more people and more opportunities for him to cheer for me, but I was grateful for what I had!
7. Purchasing “I Did It” shirts at the expo before the race may or may not be a good plan. Disney was running out of marathon wear on only the second day of the expo. I really wanted a marathon jacket to commemorate my first time. It took a while to find one in the right size, but I finally found one. I also found a t-shirt proclaiming that I did it. I snatched it up quickly and happily paid for my purchases. For the entire race they haunted me. If I didn’t finish I couldn’t wear any of those jackets or shirts because I’d be a fraud. I HAD to finish so I could justify what I bought (see where the cheap thing continues?)! I guess it worked since I finished, but I’m not sure it was the best motivation!
8. Be happy with finished. I went in with the goal of finishing under my own power. I think I was only on fumes as I stumbled, zombie like, over the finish line, but I did it. I looked at my time and knew it wasn’t anywhere near where I was hoping. I didn’t even technically finish in the allotted time for the race (luckily that timer started after I crossed the start). I was not picked up by the “loser bus” and they gave me my medal so I’m taking it as good. I was completely bummed about my finish time. Until I talked with some nice ladies at the airport. They reminded me that we aren’t used to the heat and that we could probably take a good 30-45 minutes off our time in the next race. Then I remembered that when I moved from hot/injured races to cooler/healthy races I did take off that much time. It makes me feel better. A little.
9. The airport can be a place of unity. This was a destination race for us. The last time I did a destination race we drove so we didn’t see fellow runners along the way. Before that we went to Vegas for the Rock and Roll Half, but I don’t remember seeing anyone at the airport. This time the airport was FULL of runners! We all had on our jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts, race shirts, and medals (OK, I only had on my “I did it” shirt. Well, and other clothes, but that was all of the marathon wear I had on. I thought about wearing my medal, but I decided against it at the last minute. I could have taken it out of my bag and put it on, but I didn’t really need any additional weight or unbalance for the day). It was great! We all talked about the heat, compared battle scars, and congratulated each other. I think I need that after every race!
10. Scheduling a half two weeks after your first marathon is not a good idea. I had kicked around the idea of a half this winter, but didn’t make a commitment because the one I usually run was the same weekend as the marathon. There was another scheduled and a friend and I decided that it could be fun. My training was going well at the time and I had an 8 mile recovery run on the schedule so I thought-why not! Bad choice. I’m still working on getting my legs loose enough for a recovery run, let alone a half marathon. We’ll see how this week goes, but I’m thinking no.
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Marathon Prep: Packing

OK. I have to admit. I swing wildly between super organized and complete chaos. For some races I have my clothes, bib, shoes, Garmin, tunes, inhaler, water, everything out the night before. It does makes the mornings easier. For far more, I am racing (no pun intended) to get everything together and hope I don’t forget anything.

Destination races are worse. My running friends jokingly call me a running clothes diva. I don’t consider it diva-ish. I just like to be comfortable. I like them to fit how I like it on that day (some days my bigger running shirts are my friend). I like to be comfortable temperature wise. I like when they don’t get in the way of what I need to do. When I’m at home, I can change my mind at the last minute, bring a bag of “extras” for in the car in case I change my mind, or if I’m running in the area, call Mr Grumpy to bring me more clothes (which he hates, but loves me and does it anyway).

When I need to be elsewhere this becomes more complicated. For example, I’m running the Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday. It’s supposed to get up to 81 degrees during the race. It will probably be 50-60 when we start which is A LOT warmer than it has been in Chicago (it was 10 for my last long run). I pulled out my favorite summer running wear for the weekend, but still packed some short sleeved shirts and capris. You may think I’m crazy, but here’s where my destination psychosis comes in.

Last May I ran the Cleveland Half Marathon. Mr Grumpy and I grew up there so it was a nice “hometown” race for us. It happened to fall at the end of our little vacation trip to Tennessee. I checked the weather in both states and packed accordingly. Until a warm front came through. When we got to Cleveland it was HOT. I’d packed long sleeved shirts, long pants, jackets’ and gloves. I ended up breaking the Cardinal Rule of running (no, not new shoes on race day or wearing the shirt from the race). I bought a new shirt at the expo and wore it (with a pair of capris which I happened to pack) to the race. Luckily, a company I know was at the expo so I was sure that it would be fine (I’m wearing that same shirt this weekend).

So packing is quite a chellenge for me. As if finding everyday clothes isn’t difficult enough, I have to figure out the running stuff too. Arg!

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Crazy Vacation Post: Unsolicited Marathon Advice

For those of you who have read more than one of my posts, you know that I’m running my first marathon this week. Am I starting to freak out? Maybe a little. Do I need advice from EVERYONE as to what I need to do? Not really.

Unsolicited Advice #1: So I’m on the plane on our way to our vacation destination. The guy behind me mentions that he’s running the Disney Marathon next month. I mention that I’m running it as well and that it was my first. He asked how my training was going (so far, not too weird). I mentioned my tweaky hamstring and that I’d had to pull back on my training to let it heal some. He asked how my last 20 miler went. I had to admit that I didn’t get that far due to an injury. He then proceeded to tell me that I should have had at least one 20 miler (if not two) and really should have a 23 miler under my belt before a first marathon. I assured him that I was aware of that, but felt that it was better to be HEALED before I went than STILL INJURED with good miles. He went on to tell me that he trains marathoners and new runners and he would never let one of his runners start a race they weren’t ready for (good thing he’s not MY coach. I’d never run a race again). He then when on to drill me about my stretching and rehab (thanks. I have a DOCTOR I’m working with on this). Awesome. Luckily I have a twitterverse of cheerleaders who told me to ignore the running nutjob from the plane. Not easy, but done.

Unsolicited Advice #2: I thought I’d be safe while listening to a time share sales push. Not so lucky. If you missed the story of the time share debacle, be sure to read the vacation post on how bad 90 minutes can be. This woman was the picture of gloom and misery. She was overweight and complained throughout the session about how much her knees were bothering her (I’m no supermodel so don’t take my comments as a statement here other than to give you a picture of where this advice is coming from). She asked where our next trip would be and we mentioned going to Orlando for the marathon. She became animated and launched into a story about how she owns a yoga studio and that I should be adding Hot Yoga to my cross training routine. Without it, my training would be incomplete. I should really check it out while I was in town and get in as many sessions as possible between now and the marathon (OK. She didn’t say it exactly like that, but my pained head heard it about like that). I smiled and thanked her and got out of there ASAP.

Unsolicited Advice #3: My husband’s family joined us on our “vacation alone” for the week (see the first post of this series for more details on THAT). A family member has run one marathon (as far as I know) and a few other little races. I was telling her about how excited I was about the medal (I have a picture posted on my fridge for motivation). She told me that she doesn’t really care about the medals and either gives them to the kids to play with them or throws them away (mine are all displayed on an awesome rack in our stairwell. In chronological order). When I mentioned that the race gives us seven hours to finish so I wasn’t really worried about finishing, she told me how her sister finished her last marathon about and hour and a half later than she anticipated (implying that I wouldn’t finish in less than 8) and then stated that the worst thing that would happen would be that I wouldn’t finish. WHAT? Not finish?! Yeah, I’ll crawl across the finish line before THAT happens!

Unsolicited Advice #4: By Tuesday night I was less than willing to mention the marathon to anyone ever again. I had ordered some running things from a company in Arizona (see picture below. It explains so much) just before we left. She offered to ship it to the resort rather than our house so I could get it and enjoy it sooner. Awesome! When I went to pick up my package from the front desk I opened it to make sure that everything was there. The gentleman at the concierge desk noticed the shirt I ordered and asked if I was a runner. I admitted that I was and my marathon plans. He was actually really nice about it and invited me to come run the Arizona Marathon next year (it’s in February. It’s really hilly. I live in Chicago. We can’t even pretend to train for that). He also told me he knew the nutjob from #2 and that she lost her yoga studio (he said she wasn’t very good at it) along with several other businesses over the past few years. It made me feel a little better.

Marathon weekend will be here before we know it. If I don’t keel over from the stress…or the continual advice!

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Pre-Marathon Panic!

You may or may not know that I am running my first marathon next weekend. I decided over the summer that I was ready, convinced Mr Grumpy (which wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be), and forked over a good amount of money for the privilege of running 26.2 miles. I found a training program I liked, printed it out, figured out my shoe schedule (can’t have them too new or two old for the race), and got to work.

My first several long runs went great. OK. My first 17 was a little rough, but I was getting over a cold. It makes breathing difficult. I got to my 20 miler (the gold standard of marathon prep) and felt a twinge in my left hamstring. Dang! I stopped to stretch around mile 11 and things only felt worse. It was my coldest run to date and was freezing so Mr Grumpy was at the 11.5 mile mark with more clothes. I took a break, stretched some more, and decided to head for home to rest my leg rather than push on.

As someone with a history of injuries while running, I’ve learned to listen to my body. I took a few weeks “off” to focus on shorter runs, stretching, strength work, and resting. I tried some longer runs in between with little success. I finally got back out about a month ago and cranked out 14 decent miles. Hooray! The following week I got through 16 cold, wet miles before I decided to call it a day and head for home. I thought about pushing to the magic 20, but couldn’t feel my face and could wring water out of every piece of clothing I was wearing. My time was good and on pace for where I wanted to be. I felt good. I might be able to do this after all!

The following week we left for vacation. I had a run planned, but between travel, a monster headache, and an achy leg I decided to take the week to hike and participate in other exercise. I did some stretching and enjoyed letting my leg heal a little more.

My in-laws kindly gave me some kind of upper respiratory ick while I saw them on vacation so breathing without running has been a challenge this week. Breathing while running has been a whole different story. I put in 8 on New Year’s Day after taking some cough syrup. With codeine. Not the best plan (I didn’t realize it had codeine in it until it was too late). Let’s just say that has NOT been added to my marathon day strategy.

To make things more crazy I checked the weather for race day. Here I was thinking it would be a comfortable 40-50 degrees in January. In Florida. No such luck. 81! Yikes! Last week it was 10 when I was running. I can’t even imagine what 81 will feel like let alone how to adjust to it! Yikes!

Like I said. Mild first marathon panic going on here today. Luckily Mr Grumpy scheduled us for massages this afternoon and my leg was actually not achy this morning (this may be a first in several months). Stretching and strength work for me again today while I wait for the lungs to catch up. YEAHHH!!!!

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Crazy Vacation Post: At last…home!

Our trip home was way less eventful than the one to Arizona. Our tickets were good and had the right names on them (the travel agent fixed that during the week for us). We returned a dirtier rental car than we picked up and we figured out how to pack all of our treasures and not mail more boxes back. We didn’t get to sit next to each other on the plane, but considering we both had books it was OK. A cab arrived quickly to get us and broke a few land speed records to get us home in no time!

The first thing we noticed was that two of the three lights we left on were off. Our cleaning lady is really nice about helping us with that…sigh. Beyond that, everything seemed fine. No one decided to surprise us and power clean/organize our house, but nothing was missing either so I guess that’s OK.

Sunday we got up and started plotting how we were going to break the psycho-mutt out of puppy jail (OK, she wasn’t in puppy jail-she was with our awesome vet. They just don’t have Sunday pick-up). We spend the day lounging, getting some little things done (like starting this series), and relaxing. Nice day, but weird without the dog.

Monday Mr Grumpy had to go to work, but I still had the day off. I had this huge plan of going for a run, going to the store for groceries, and then picking up the dog so we can snuggle all afternoon until he came home. Yeah. That was the plan. I was distracted by some paperwork which needed to be done in the morning so no run. I figured I’d do my favorite stretching video (too much sitting while traveling), get groceries, and get the dog, but then I thought that I should check with the vet to find out when they close for New Year’s Eve. Yikes! Noon! Better run.

I grabbed a quick shower, put on my running shoes, and walked over to free the pooch. I took her collar so I didn’t have to use one of their temporary leashes and put our credit card in my pocket so I could just pay and go! When I got there they gave me my instructions (she had her teeth cleaned and a lump removed from her hip so we needed to watch the licking and give her an antibiotic twice a day) and the bill. No sweat. Did I need one of those cone collars? Nope. We still had one from her last surgery. It was only $25 more than I expected (and prepared Mr Grumpy for). Hooray!

They brought the psycho-mutt out and she would not sit still. I tried to get her collar on and she wiggled around so I couldn’t hook it. After a few minutes of the tech trying to help I gave up and decided to take her home on the temporary leash. I thanked everyone for their help as she dragged me to the door.

It was a good thing I wore my running shoes because she SPRINTED home. She made one little stop in the neighbor’s yard (good thing I brought bags) and one in ours (who cares) before zipping to the back door and begging to come in. I figured the groceries could wait a little longer and we could spend some quality time together. No such luck. She paced around the house crying. I thought she might be looking for Mr Grumpy, but when she found her toy hippo she seemed to be better. We played catch for a little while, but then she was back to crying. A quick walk around the neighborhood seemed to help a little, but it wasn’t getting any work done. We cuddled on the bed for a while before I decided that I should get out the cone of shame so I could go to the store. I couldn’t find it. As soon as I stopped touching her she really started to go to town with the licking. Ugh! Where is that danged collar?

Well, I couldn’t find the collar and didn’t want her licking so I called the vet and ran over for a new one. $20 later I came home with a new cone. I put it on and she immediately flipped her wicked little tongue over the edge and started licking her scar. Ugh! Another trip to the vet for a bigger cone and we were pretty much set to go!

After a little nap and some grocery shopping we were home before Mr Grumpy. She flew into his arms when he walked in the door. She really loves him! That evening I heard her licking again. She figured out how to hook the edge of the collar on her hip so she could push the scar area closer to her tongue. I don’t know if I should be annoyed or impressed!

The stitches come out Monday…if we can make it that long!

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Crazy Vacation Post: Scenic Train Ride

As the highlight of our trip (and the whole reason for that crazy time-share presentation) I figured I should dedicate one full post to the train ride. We started the day meeting a friend of Mr Grumpy’s from elementary school (seriously. The man has friends from kindergarten. I have one from second grade on facebook, but we really haven’t spoken since I was no longer cool which would have been about fifth grade. Maybe I’m cool now! Er…or not). He was nice and I didn’t experience any of my normal “have I just said something stupid? If so I should try to fix it by talking more until I fix it or just make it worse so I stop and try to blend in to my chair so they can forget about me” situations. I hate when that happens.

We had a little time so we picked up some postcards to mail home (and become the good children/grandchildren again). Luckily the resort was willing to mail them and I didn’t need to find a post office.

We go to the train depot (not a station. I’m not sure I know the difference, but obviously there was one) a little before our “check-in” time which was a full hour before departure. Mr Grumpy was certain it was so we’d buy something in the gift shop (which we did), but I told him it was so we could take care of what we needed before boarding. We walked around, took some pictures, and checked out the crowd to make sure that we weren’t the youngest people on board (we were close, but not quite).

At quarter to they allowed us to board. We were in first class (which meant that we had nice leather sofas, coffee tables, and little tables were we could sit and snack or visit). They had beverages for us (water for free and others at cost) and snacks. Nothing super exciting (sandwiches, salad, a relish tray, cookies, chips, and chicken wings), but good enough to keep us satisfied during the four hour trip. We settled in and got ready to depart.

The trip out was full of interesting history, identification of rock formations, limited wildlife (two golden eagles and two bald eagles), and strange sites (like guys rock climbing up a cliff, kayakers flipping us off, a woman on a horse with her dog-the dog wasn’t on the horse, just near by). We were seated in a car with a family who was having a mini-reunion and were drinking sufficiently for it (which was increasingly obvious as the trip continued). The sound track which accompanied the trip was every single train song known to man (although I don’t remember hearing I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. I’ll have to call them about that). For me, it was completely distracting. Obviously, it was for the family reunion too as they started singing along on the way back. Poorly. But entertainingly!

Between cars were “open air” cars which allowed passengers to sit outside and view more while on our trip. Mr Grumpy spent most of his time there. I have a comfortable temperature zone of about four degrees so I stepped out long enough to see what all of the fuss was about and then retreated to our nice warm car.

Overall, it was an outstanding trip. Not too much excitement, but an enjoyable four hours together!
View of the engine from our car.

View of the engine from our car.

View on the way home.

View on the way home.

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Crazy Vacation Post: Finally Free!

So after two days with the family, Mr Grumpy finally got tired of me throwing a hissy fit every morning, flopping myself around, refusing to go, threatening to say what I REALLY think instead of putting on my good-girl facade… or he just wanted to get our day started before mid-afternoon and told his family that we were going to explore on our own on Thursday. Hooray!

We drove up to Jerome, AZ (which for some reason I keep calling by the wrong name). It used to be a mining town, then was a ghost town, and now is a little artist nook. We aren’t really artsy, but thought it sounded like fun. Jerome is tucked up in the side of a mountain so there was a lot of walking on an incline all day. One of our biggest challenges on vacation was that almost NOTHING opened before 10:00 every morning. We are early birds. We like to get up, get out, and get back early. We are not a couple who eats dinner late (we aren’t elderly, but we do like eating early if there’s a deal. Don’t judge us. We’re cheep) or stays up all hours of the night. I start dragging by about 9:00 every evening and am in bed if Mr Grumpy isn’t home. But I digress.

We got to Jerome around 9:30 that morning so we found a winery that was serving awesome coffee (Caduceus Cellars) and loitered on some comfy couches while we waited for the rest of the shops to open. We found a charming kaleidoscope shop (Nellie Bly), a quirky artist or two, and a hot sauce shop that can make your mouth numb for weeks (we shipped a box home).

My favorite find is this little sculpture we purchased from an artist selling her creations in the park. Too cute!

10100_4018097527172_523214613_nWe ate a quick and yummy lunch and visited an old mine shaft on our way back into town to check out some other little shops.
Oh yeah. How could I forget Mr Grumpy’s favorite part? So I mentioned a while ago that he has this thing about Big Foot, but I don’t remember if I mentioned that he also loves shows about ghost hunters and aliens (all of which made Arizona a perfect vacation spot for him). In Jerome is a hotel which was previously a hospital (according to the chamber of commerce, only six people died while it was being built) which, of course, had a psychiatric wing and is supposedly haunted. He honestly couldn’t wait to get up there. It was the first thing he mentioned when we got there, what he mentioned to EVERY shop keeper along the way, and all he could talk about until we got him up to the hotel. He was obsessed! We didn’t see anything, but there is a weird vibe to the building (not as strong as another one we were in, but weird all the same). They let us walk around the first floor (which is super tiny) and invited us to have lunch there (which we decided against). Kind of a let down after all of the hype. Mr Grumpy has decided that the next time we go to the Sedona area we are going to stay there for the night. Great. I don’t see a lot of sleeping going on in a haunted hotel!
Anyway, we enjoyed our free day. It was nice to just walk and look at things even if I had to hear about ghosts all day! Yay us!
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Crazy Vacation Post: Merry…hack, hack, hack, Christmas!

OK I KNOW this is over a week late, but I’m catching up on a crazy week without wi-fi. Hang with me. We’re almost there!

Ugh. Did I mention that my in-laws rearranged their travel plans so they could be with us for the holidays? Yeah. Not exactly my plan for the week. We did agree to do Christmas dinner with them. They were making lamb (Mr Grumpy’s favorite) and I figured we might as well go.

Mr Grumpy checked in with them earlier in the day to double check our plans. Our nieces were sick with some upper respiratory/cold thing. Our nephew and one of the nieces was throwing up earlier in the week. Mr Grumpy’s brother had been throwing up for two days. The mom wasn’t due to arrive until later on Christmas Day and she was sick as well. Awesome. Can’t wait.

We went over and stayed mainly in the dining room area of her mom’s small condo. The nieces and nephews were obsessed with the TV and the brother was in a bedroom possibly dying. The kids are nice, but are not so good on covering their mouths when they cough. Which doesn’t really matter, until I’m sitting right next to them. Hack. Hack. Hack.

The next morning we went to pick up the mom. More hacking. In a closed space. Hack. Hack. Hack.

We met the rest of the “fam” for lunch. Hack. Hack. Hack.

We went to see one of the tourist spots in the area. Hack. Hack. Hack.

We drove an hour away with the mom. Hack. Hack. Hack.

We drove home in a snow storm with the mom. Hack Hack. Hack.

We all went out to dinner. Hack. Hack. Hack.

The mom went to urgent care the next day because of her cold. Needless to say, I’m following every Old Wives trick in the book to avoid getting sick as well. Merry Christmas to me…not (hack, hack)!

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Crazy Vacation Post: How Bad Can 90 Minutes Be?

Did I mention that Mr Grumpy and I are pretty cheep? Well, our first stop after finally getting to our condo and getting some sleep was to the visitor’s bureau to see what was available to do in town. They asked if we wanted to take a helicopter ride. Not really. We did, however, want to do this awesome nature railroad trip. He asked if we’d like to save some money. Is the Pope Catholic? Of COURSE we want to save some money. He said he could get us the helicopter ride AND the train for $100 (it would have been over $350 otherwise). The catch? We had to sit through a time share “open house”. What the hey? We can sacrifice 90 minutes for over $250 in savings. Let’s go!

Ugh. Maybe I should mention that I had the worst headache I’ve had in a while. Not the worst ever, but pretty bad. I got some coffee and hoped that it would do the trick while we motored out of town to get our gifties!

Yeah. When we got there we realized that we were the only “guests” at this “open house”. Our guide “Diva” (I’d say that I changed her name, but this really WAS her name. It fit pretty well too) started the tour with telling us how much the area sucked and how much she hated it there. Um, I am lousy at selling things, but I don’t think this is how you begin. She went on to ask if we had children (nope. Just the psycho-mutt) and then asked about 5000 questions wanting to know how we’d been married for ten years and didn’t have kids (um, that’s really none of your business, but thanks for asking). She proceeded to tell us that we were lucky because her children were horrible. We got the full story of her kids, how her son was thrown out of the Navy, how her daughter thinks she treats her dogs better than her. Awesome. Within the first ten minutes the savings just didn’t seem as great. We ended up being there over TWO HOURS while she tried to convince us that $20,000 plus $600 per year maintenance fees to “own” 1/52 of a condo was a great deal. Once we escaped, we snatched our vouchers and ran away as quickly as possible.

Sadly, I had already agreed to another for that afternoon (which we rescheduled). That one started with us waiting over 20 minutes for our “guide” but at least they had snacks (and a lot more people waiting). There was a family there with a fairly young child. He wanted some popcorn. There’s a sign on the popper that guests needed assistance scooping. The dad waited a minute or so before he went ahead and opened the door. A woman from the front desk swooped in faster than the Air Force scrambling for a terrorist threat. Yikes!

This round wasn’t as bad (except that our “guide” wore a shirt that looked more like lingerie which distracted us both. We learned that she liked her kids even though two were “accidents” and the third was planned, and that she has a fear of heights which is why they have no Christmas lights up). They were generally nice until we were sent to the “ringer” to try to seal the deal. He made some veiled threats regarding our vacation club being able to use their resort again, but we weren’t that impressed so it didn’t work well. From them we gained $75 (which we have about $7.50 left) and a free weekend at one of their resorts (worth about $500).

After 4-5 hours of torture and torment, I have to say the helicopter ride was both fascinating and frightening at the same time. The train ride was awesome and an extra $75 is always nice while on vacation. Was it worth almost five hours of our time? Well, I think we spent most of our vacation debating that one. Will we do them again? Only if I feel like being divorced by the end of our trip!
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