Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You have to sober up and go home sometime...‏

Hello everyone!

Well, this will be my last email from the Rocky Mountains... Lucky me, I get to go home a little bit earlier than planned. So, tomorrow is my last day at work, and it can't come soon enough, frankly!!! 8-5 and then I'm done. I'll be leaving Wednesday after lunch and arriving in Des Moines on Friday afternoon. I am SO glad to be heading out of here and back to REAL civilization!!!

This past week has had some memorable moments that I'd like to share briefly. :-) To start with, we've had some staff going-away stuff going on. Yesterday we went on a staff ride up to Inspiration Point, at the top of one of the mountains here in the Arapaho National Forest. I had decided before I went down to the barn that I was going to try to get up on the horse this last time without the assistance of the loading platform. Well, I certainly rethought that idea when I got there and saw that the horse's stirrup was about 3 feet off the ground. Forget about that shit!! It was the same one I rode last time, but I didn't remember it being that high up! The wrangler, Chris, promised that he had helped someone twice my size up onto a horse (all I could think was "Poor horse!"), but I still opted for the loading platform.

The ride was a lot of straight-uphill, straight-downhill riding, which is exhausting on both horse and rider. As it was on my first trail ride, I couldn't help but feel sorry for my poor horse, JD. He was wheezing, moaning, and shitting all the way up the mountain, so I kept petting him and telling him that he was a good boy and that soon it would all be over.

Expectedly, once we got to the top, we all had to dismount and walk around to look at the stunning views. But of course, there is no loading platform up at Inspiration Point. So, my first instinct was just to stay my ass on the horse and send my camera with someone else. But the wrangler, Chris, would have none of it ("I used to be a Marine---TRUST ME!!") and basically pried me from the horse with a crowbar and the assistance of one of the other guys on the ride. It was not my most glorious moment, let me tell you. It felt rather like being one of those fat ladies who have to be removed from their house via crane.

Still, I was glad to get off the horse for awhile. Unfortunately, I almost got blown off the top of the mountain by the crazy powerful wind gusts. In my pictures, you can see that everyone has to brace themselves, lest they be carried away. The views were almost worth it. :-) Getting back on the horse was another adventure that I won't even go into here, except to say that I now know how a cheerleader feels when they're sitting up in the air on the hand of one of the guy cheerleaders. By the time the ride was over, my entire body was aching and my head was pounding with a sinus headache. It was nice to ride with everyone one last time, but man it took a lot out of me.

Later that night, we had a farewell bonfire out by the King House. All the staff came except Evil Chef Scott and his poor fiance. It was a great time for sure. I'm going to miss this motley crew of alcoholics, crazies, and genuinely nice people.

Today was a bit crazy. Balbir is testing out this yoga guy friend of his for doing yoga here next summer, so he wanted us all to go to a session with him. Well, I couldn't do yoga this morning because I had to man the phones, but this afternoon he was doing a meditation session that I wanted to attend. So, I went. Dick wasn't in the office when I left, but all was quiet, and Balbir insisted that I go. Well, as soon as we got out, an hour later, I go to the dining room only to find out that Dick is ENRAGED, and has been looking for me for the whole hour because a call came in that he couldn't handle. The bad thing about this was that in the process, he went down to Pioneer to hunt me down (presumably lolling about drunk, smoking weed and skipping work) and instead found Corky's dog, Gizmo. He told her he wanted the fucking dog out of here and she was very upset.

Well, the look on his face when I came in the EDR was priceless. He looked like he was going to have a stroke at any moment, but was trying to control himself. Peggy calmed him down and explained where we all were. Well, things eventually settled, and he never actually yelled at me. Still, he was a total dumbass about it because he could have just taken a message. Plus, he knew that the meditation thing was going on and he just forgot about it. Eventually, he remembered that he likes me, and so by the time he left, he was whistling to himself happily. Oh, and Mike (Corky's boss) was called in by Dick so that they could discuss Dick wanting to fire her, but Mike put his foot down, so a crisis was averted on that front. *whew*

Speaking of Corky, I got some very bad news last week. It turns out that her being sick all the time hasn't been from Scott's food. In fact, she has stomach cancer. But, she's not going in for treatment for another month or so, and even then she is saying that she just has to have a surgery and then she'll go back to her construction job. I think she's either delusional or purposely trying not to admit the reality of the situation. I'm so sad... I'm sure I'll never see her again, so saying goodbye is going to be really hard. She keeps talking about coming back next year and keeping in touch...I can hardly take it...

Anyway, it's past time for me to leave, so I shall say goodbye. Just think, by this weekend, I will be reachable by cell phone and able to eat real food and go shopping. YAY!!!

Talk to you all soon!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Close, but no moose

Hello everybody!

Well, I just had a bit of an update on goings-on up here, so I thought I would send a short email out. First of all, today I was asked what my preferred last day would be, and I said the 24th. So, as of right now, that seems to be a go, although it could change at the last minute. I was very happy to find out that I could leave that early. Here's hoping that it comes through!

Anyway, this week on my day off I went to Rocky Mountain National Park with Kim from Housekeeping. When Lisa the bartender and Tanja went, they saw tons of wildlife, i.e. elk, moose, coyotes, big-horned sheep, etc... She couldn't rave enough about the place for wildlife and scenic views. So, I admit I went there with some high expectations. Tragically, and expectedly (with my luck), I saw a grand total of 3 elk, 1 marmot, and a handful of squinnies. That's it. :-( However, the views were still spectacular, and I'm enclosing some pictures that I took. It was a lovely drive up over Trail Ridge Road, which I believe is the highest paved road in the country, or some such statistic. We were up above the tree line, and when Lisa went they were actually above some of the clouds. No such luck for us (natch), but it was still a beautiful drive. We had lunch and did some shopping in Estes Park, and then headed home. It was a pretty good day.

Anyway, my day is almost up here, but I just wanted to give you all the update. I hope everyone is doing well, and maybe I'll see you sooner than I thought!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Hot to Trot

Hello everyone!

I wanted to thank you for your very kind birthday wishes! It doesn’t feel so different being 28…mostly I still feel like I’m about 18. ;-)

I had a great time on my birthday. I had the day off, naturally, so I planned to do a horseriding lesson on trotting in the morning, take the afternoon off, and then make dinner for all the girls I live with and host a little slumber party in the King House.

Well, the horseback riding was awesome! Last time I was terrified out of my wits and spent the entire time clinging to the horn that’s on the front of the saddle. Of course, the wranglers will laugh in your face if you even MENTION the horn, because they’ve all been raised with the idea that you only use it to get on-*maybe*-and otherwise it’s just for your rope and stuff. Ideally, you’re supposed to get on and off the horse using only its mane to hold onto (apparently horses don’t have feeling in this area of their body, so they don’t feel you pulling on it). The head wrangler claims that a real cowboy doesn’t even need the saddle to be cinched onto the horse, that they can get on it so fast and balanced that the saddle never even moves. Whatever. That seems to fly in the face of physics to me, so I’ll believe it when I see it. When I demanded Randy give me a demonstration, he suddenly got very busy. ;-) Anyway, I’m still at the point where I require the fraidy cat’s platform to get on and off the horse, so I don’t know what I’m bitching about… However, this time when I was riding, I hardly held onto the horn at all. 95% of the time, I held onto just the reigns, and I was totally comfortable with that. So, huge progress for me! :-)

Instead of doing a lesson first, Lisa (the bartender from Minneapolis), Stacey (the wrangler), and I went on a short trail ride down to the lake. There were definitely a few scary moments of having to go down impossibly steep embankments, but I let the horse do his thing, and we both survived. It was really neat to go down right by the lake; Stacey even rode her horse right into the lake, which freaked the horse out a bit, I must say.

On our way back to the arena for my trotting lesson, Lisa decided to kick her horse up a notch into a trot. Well, my horse, JD, was like, “Hmmm…that looks great! Me too!” So, very suddenly, I was being tossed around on my horse like a rag doll. It was TERRIFYING!! When you see trotting on tv or in the movies, it certainly never looks so violent, but let me assure you that it is!

So, I started screaming and laughing at the same time; it was a very weird mix of terror and elation. And all the while I’m trying to remember how Stacey said I should sit when trotting, and she’s screaming directions and laughing at me as we all go along, me feeling wildly out of control (a fairly rare emotion for me, admittedly). Eventually, my brain started working again and I remembered to pull back on the reigns to make the horse slow down. I have never felt so relieved!! Of course, Lisa and Stacey thought it was the funniest thing they’ve seen in years.

As we got closer to the ranch, they convinced me that I should try it again, this time on purpose. So, hesitantly, but eager to try it under more controlled conditions, I kicked the horse, and it was the same feeling of crazy bouncing all over again! And, of course, it doesn’t help that no one told me to wear a sports bra for trotting, so I’m practically getting two black eyes in the bargain. Once back in the arena, I tried it for a third time, and that time wasn’t as terrifying, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again anytime soon!

Dinner was a much more subdued experience, thankfully. All the girls loved the dinner I made, especially the dessert (a tasty Pithivier). I was really surprised when they pulled out a couple presents and a card that had been signed by everyone on the ranch!! Balbir even had Tanja (his assistant) buy me a box of truffles!

After dinner, we watched “The Philadelphia Story”, and everyone promised to keep the talking to a minimum (that is one of my biggest pet peeves about the women I live with—Corky especially—they talk constantly about total bullshit while you’re trying to watch a movie or TV). We decided not to spend the night in the King House because it’s supposedly haunted and it's not like any of us have anything to prove. ;-)

Overall, it was a fantastic birthday! I’m attaching some pictures from the day so that you can follow along.

Anyway, I wish you could see out my office window right now. There’s a cloud out there that looks like a tornado is going to drop out of it at any second. Of course, here that means nothing. At home the sirens would be going off for sure. Here, it’s probably just going to rain for 10 minutes. Today we had a double rainbow, one of which ended right on our airstrip. It was really cool!

Well, it’s about that time. I hope all of you are doing well. Happy Birthday to all of my fellow Virgos!! Talk to you later!