|In the end we did not miss Lisa's competition — this time she did pas de deux as well.
|Meanwhile Sid and Tom enjoyed a trip to Castle Air Museum.
As I did mention in the previous journal, it did not snow for practically whole
February. My original plans to take our kids plus Lucy skiing again —
for a Sunday and President's Day (holiday) Monday — but then it began
to freeze in the mountains, hence suboptimal conditions; and my back gave way.
It started by waking up on Sunday, a week before the planned trip, with a stiff
shoulder. I regarded it as the case of bed being the second most dangerous
place for me at my age, right after the bathroom, and I expected to stretch it
out and it would go away. By Monday I was barely walking and driving turned into
a kind of Russian roulette, for I could not turn left to check out an
intersection. By Tuesday I begged Regina, who's original job is a rehab nurse,
to check me out. So on Wednesday I went to see her, and she cursed me for my
stiff muscles, but I left her place walking on my feet and even looking around
at intersections. Since that moment my situation kept improving, but I still did
not feel like signing up to take three teenagers across two hundred miles to the
mountains without a backup driver (who'd switch with me if my back turned worse,
or if I jerked with it while skiing).
|Some moves must be choreographed to a perfection. Riley must jump into the air to make room for Lisa to swing her leg under her and over the horse's neck.
|Up to tree vaulters may be on the horse at the same time during a team number.
Lisa had another barrel competition at the end of February. For some reason we
were all convinced that it would take place on Saturday 22nd, until we noticed
an organizer mentioning she was looking forward to see us on Sunday; we started
scanning the schedule — indeed — competition was on Sunday. Well,
we figured it out two days in advance, not on the Saturday morning, haha.
Lisa's vaulting team started putting together a horse free style. I must say
that for me, mother and a spectator, it's a game of nerves. One thing is to
admire other vaulting teams, quite another is to have own child in the midst
of various acrobatic performances on a galloping horse. I don't always stay for
the practices, and when I do, I frequently use the two hours to take a walk
in Fremont Older Preserve — but I personally watched and recorded on my
phone the moment when Lisa and Claire rolled off the horse. Claire was supposed
to stand on the horse and pull Lisa up from the ground and place her in front
of herself — into a relative narrow space between herself and another
support Emma, who sits on the horse's neck. I don't know what went wrong, but
suddenly Lisa rolled and then Claire rolled, and the horse galloped (fortunately
away from them). Both girls seemed all right, and the most shaken person was me.
By the next practice the girls had worked it out, and I hope they'll continue.
|Annie the rat.
|Jazz the rat.
During last year's summer during a summer camp, Lisa fell in love with a rat.
In particular with a female rat named Mim, and she very much wanted to adopt the
orphan. We talked her out of it, considering her hamster Sunny — but now
that Sunny had unexpectedly died before Christmas, rats came back as a topic
again. Moreover, Lisa's team mate Selma owns rats since fall, and thus Lisa
gathered information and urged. For me, the most relevant information was
that Selma's rats come from a breeder, who has a business of rodent-sitting
during holidays and vacations. Any animal with us is a complication in regard
to our trips and travels — and we dare to leave a hamster on her own
for a few days, but rats fit in a different category and need more supervision.
So by the end of February we acquired two rats, sized more like mice by that
time. After long discussions they got named Annie
of Seannan McGuire: Incryptid) and Jazz
from Andy Weir's Artemis). Lisa keeps
training her rats and takes care of them , including the part that within a few
weeks we had to buy a larger cage so that ratties would have more room.
|Alabama Hills with Sierra Nevada in the background.
|One of many canyon passages in Alabama Hills.
At the start of March, Sid and I could not hold it any longer, and traveled
one more time to Kirkwood. It was empty there, with the Backside open, and we
wore ourselves quite out. Kids did not want to come along, claiming they had to
study (awaiting quarterly written tests); we felt that there was not need to
force them — skiing was not that awesome, and there was still some chance
that by end of March there would be new snow and better conditions. Well, it did
snow, but conditions did not improve, because resorts had closed down in viral
hysteria. But I don't want to write about that.
Looking into our calendar, the picture was merciless — first weekend in
March was going to be our last "open" one, for a long time. Then there
would be Sid's business trip to Texas, Lisa's competitions, and Twilight birth
term. We had to grasp the chance and get out on a trip. Looking back, I'm very
happy we went, for it was the last weekend within the more-or-less normalcy of
On Friday afternoon we began to cut off first miles off our journey, to have
dinner in Paso Robles, and then catching the night at a hotel in Tehachapi.
Thus we got closer to our first attraction, Alabama Hills
, allowing us
to check out Movie Road by eleven o'clock on Saturday, wondering where to turn.
Eventually we stopped near the Moebius Arch, and walked off along a random
trail into the rocky maze, away from the tourist-besieged arch.
|Panorama of the Sierra from our hotel.
|Death Valley - Mozaic Canyon is flooded with gravel.
We made an attempt to gather our collective resolve to hike up to Whitney
Portal, but the road was theoretically closed (had a sign saying so) and the
kids were being obnoxious, so we only took some lookout pictures and drove back
down to Lone Pine for coffee (myself) and ice cream (rest of the family). We had
managed to reserve a room at our favorite hotel, but after moving in we
discovered in a quiet moment that something was buzzing there.
Soon we spotted a smoke detector with a permanent fan screwed onto a wall
outlet. Fortunately it was still afternoon, and
thus we succeeded in summoning a maintenance dude, to dismount and take away
the offending noisemaker, and a quiet night could ensue.
We arrived to have dinner at the Carousel like old hands we are, that is, early;
we actually got a table with no waiting, and hence our dinner proceeded without
delay. The only really problematic moment came, when Sid, after removing his
trousers, discovered that he did not just get a blue spot from having skidded
off of a boulder in Alabama Hills; he had severely skinned his shin. Which is
no serious injury, but crawling into a bed with a bloody wound and contaminating
all bedding is not very tasteful. I normally treat this class of scrapes with
climber's tape (taping over bruises like with a band-aid, and tightening up
sprained ankles and wrists) — but my tape was not up to this, or wide
enough, respectively. I had pondered it for a while, what to put under the tape
so that it would not cling to the scrape — then I had an idea: I taped
a feminine pad onto Sid's shin.
|A slide at Mozaic Caynon.
|Hippo in a small side canyon.
Sid was threatening that he would proudly walk with his pad wearing shorts in
Death Valley, but to the total relief of our children (who are naturally quite
embarrassed about their parents no matter what they do), he concluded that his
scrape would fare best exposed to the open air, so he did not draw attention
to himself at Mozaic Canyon in the end. On our way to Death Valley
had yet another one of those experiences that leaves you baffled. In switchbacks
over Panamint Springs we caught up with a car from Pennsylvania. Oh yes,
I understand when someone navigating unfamiliar, BAD VISIBILITY turns, chooses
to drive slowly. But why, oh why, must they drive on the wrong side of the road
in these turns? We were quite ennerved, for there was the risk that we would,
possibly have to administer mouth-to-snout CPR (and perhaps to those traveling
in the other direction as well, after a head-on collision). We had, eventually,
managed to pass them and thus escape the responsibility, and now we can only
hope that they, too, had arrived all right.
, which had been closed during our last visit, purportedly
due to flooding, turned out to be as disappointment. Floods had filled the
narrow canyon with gravel, in spot several yards deep, and thus instead of
entertainment in the form of scrambling through a dry arroyo and admiring
beautiful curves of sandstone bedrock formed by seasonal water, we trekked
over natural gravel "roadway", where most of the interesting natural
architecture remained underfoot. Fortunately then we discovered a mini
side-canyon upstream, which was somewhat wilder than the gravel pit, and we
spotted interesting lizards there.
|A stripey beau.
A long drive home still awaited us, which we shortened by listening to
. Our regular, commonplace road trip, a permanent part of our normal
family life... which got subsequently derailed. Sid's business trip got
canceled, Lisa lost all vaulting and all of her competitions, while we gained
lines at the stores and toilet paper shortages, travel and gatherings
forbidden... a nasty deja vu
, for we had been there before. And I should
be grateful that we were (still) not ordered to wear face masks. I had wondered
for some time why seeing masked people invokes a sense of unspecific anxiety in
me, and I think I figured it out. At a relatively young age I had read, and
subsequently seen Planet of the Apes
. The original, of 1968, where actors
wear rigid prosthetic mouths under human eyes. Phew! The movie has scared me
for a long time — and now I have to live on such Planet... They walk